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And Other Stories 







Copsrright, 1918, Curtis Publishing Company 
Copyright, 1918. Duffield & Company 

DEC i?!9l8 




Ward Eighty-Three ........ 3 

With the French Wounded 39 

Miss Greenhorn Goes A-Nursing . . . . 77 

The Children of the War Zone 107 

A Canteener in France 143 

Old Glory and Verdun 186 

Behind Chateau-Thierry 223 

The Spite Attack ...... . . . 269 


What Kemained of a French Field Hospital After 

a German Incendiary Shell Hit It . Frontispiece 

Facing Page 
Eefugees from the Gassed Districts .... 110 

The Commanding Officer of the Citadel of Verdun 188 

Tent-Ward Showing Damage by German Bombs . 270 



It was my first morning at the hospital The 
clock in the vestiaire stood at five minutes to eight. 
At eight I was to begin work, "Report for duty" 
was the way the formal summons ran. I was to 
report to Ward Eighty-three, the biggest, the heav- 
iest and the most interesting ward in the hospital. 
Mrs. Monroe, who had charge of the untrained and 
unpaid volunteer nurses — or auxiliaires, as they are 
termed — ^had told me to await her in the vestiaire. 
Accordingly I waited, feeling awkward and strange 
and timid, like a Freshman on his first day at 

To say that I was nervous would be considerably 
understating the case. Ever since entering the stone 
portal of the big American war hospital that morn- 
ing, I had been smitten with a deadly ague of fear — 
fear lest in my abysmal ignorance I should do the 
wrong thing at the wrong time, or fail to do the right 
thing at the right time, and a man should die as the 



consequence — a man; a real, live, breathing man — • 
one of those gay, muscular, bright-eyed little boy 
soldiers of France, with cigarettes perched rakishly 
behind their ears, that I had seen crowding the streets 
of Paris on their brief permissions from the Front ! 

Suddenly it came to me that fastening a handker- 
chief round the eyes of a blinking but obliging friend 
was a vastly different affair from fastening a firm, 
nonslippable bandage across the sockets of a man 
whose eyes have been torn out by a ball. And how 
did one stop a hemorrhage? You tied something 
somewhere. That was the extent of my knowledge on 
that point. In the confusion of my mind, I had even 
forgotten how to rescue a drowning man, a formula 
which has always fascinated me and which I have 
memorized at intervals ever since the age of ten, 
thinking that some day in such a fashion I might 
rescue my future husband. In short, all the carefully 
acquired artificial knowledge I had been able to ab- 
sorb in a three-months' First Aid Course in New 
York, all the data, the neat lists of questions and 
answers, had faded clean out of me, like a cheap 
dye, now that I was faced up with the immediate 
and grim reality. 

That course, and the light-Heartedness with which 
I had pursued it, seemed all at once to me very re- 
mote, irrelevant to the present situation, and some- 
how like a joke in bad taste. I perceived, or I be- 
lieved I perceived, that I was in a false situation. I 


had no business in that vestiaire, in that white uni- 
form and coif. If at that moment there had been a 
train waiting outside the vestiaire door bound for the 
Grand Central Station, I should have taken it with- 
out a second's hesitation. There being none, I con- 
soled myself with the reflection that, after all, I had 
not asked to come ; that, on the contrary, I had been 
sent for and urged to begin without delay, as the 
hospital was undermanned at this summer-vacation 
season, and the wounded were pouring in, a great 
steady stream, from the base hospitals. 

Moreover, I should not be alone, like a sentinel on 
his post. Over me, the auxiliaire, was the trained 
nurse; over the trained nurse was the head nurse; 
over the head nurse was the doctor of the ward ; over 
the doctor was the assistant surgeon ; over the assist- 
ant surgeon was the chief surgeon, or medicin chef; 
and over all of us, interlocking us together, was the 
French military system and the invisible but potent 
Papa Joffre. So that if I, alone, could not stop a 
hemorrhage, I could call my trained nurse; if she 
could not stop it, she could call the head nurse; if 
the two of them could not stop it, they could call the 
ward doctor ; and if he could not stop it — but at this 
point I felt myself on safe ground. The affair was 
out of my hands! 

"Have you ever Had to stop a hemorrhage?" I 
voiced my secret fear to a young Englishwoman be- 
side me, who was rapidly changing from her civilian 


costume into the crisp white linen infirmiere^s blouse 
of the wards. 

"Mon DieUy no!" She laughed as she pinned on 
her coif. "Not a chance, with so many nurses round. 
You'll have plenty of chance, though, to wash their 
feet — those that still have feet," she added soberly. 
"Is this your first day?" 

I nodded. 

"And did you have any training — I mean any real 
training — before you entered?" I asked. 

"No," she said. "I took an examination in Lon- 
don; but the examiner was so weary by the time he 
got to me that he merely said, 'Have you had the 
usual course?' And when I replied *Yes,' he simply 
passed me through. But it doesn't matter. You 
soon pick things up. What's your ward?" 


She raised her brows af that an3 glanced a^ my 

"I hope you have comfortable shoes ! Tha? ward 
is the hardest in the hospital — nothing but big pri- 
mary cases; every single hlesse in bed. You'll have 
no chance to go to sleep at the switch," she added 
with a smile. "If your feet hurt to-night, rub them 
with cold cream, then alcohol; and lie with them up 
on the footboard of your bed. It takes the swelling 
out. Have you read the rules ?" She waved her hand 
toward a printed sheet tacked upon the wall, nodded 
and hurried off. 


I faced round, feeling more than ever like a Fresh- 
man on his first day, and read the following : 


"conditions for auxiliary service 

"The auxiliaires work under the trained nurses. 
They do not, as a rule, attend at operations ; nor 
do they do the dressings, although they might be 
called upon to do a minor dressing, should the nurse 
consider them sufficiently experienced. The hours 
are from eight a. m. to six p. m. daily, with one whole 
day free one week, and one afternoon free the follow- 
ing week. Auxiliaires are asked to stay three months 
at least; six months if possible. The service is en- 
tirely voluntary, and auxiliaires must meet all their 
own expenses. Luncheon is provided at the Ambu- 
lance at a cost of 1.50 francs a meal " 

At this juncture the vestiaire door opened again. 
I wheeled — I had been wheeling every time it opened 
for the last ten minutes! — and Mrs. Monroe's brisk 
voice said: 

"Ah, there you are ! Sorry to have kept you wait- 
ing. I'll just take you to Miss Brooks, the head 
nurse of Salle Eighty-three, and she'll tell you where 
to begin.'" 
Five minutes later introductions had been effected. 


Miss Brooks, who, together with the doctor, two other 
nurses and an orderly, was bending over a bed from 
which proceeded loud screams of "0^, la la! Oh, 
la lat! Oh, la la!! I Bon Dieu! Doucement! Oh, la 
la!'* turned to the nurse beside her and said 
briefly : 

"Here's your auxiliary. Miss Ransome. Is there 
anything she can start on?" 

Miss Ransome did not even glance up. She was 
holding, firmly grasped in both hands, a man's leg, 
stiffly extended, while the doctor lifted pieces of 
gauze from what appeared to be a deep bloody and 
suppurating crater in the thigh. 

"One moment, please," she murmured. 

The dressing of the wound continued. The man 
renewed his high agonized cries : "Oh, la la! Oh, Nom 
d'un Nom! Doucement! — Gently there!" 

I stood aside and drew a deep breath. The quality 
of anguish in those tones had already turned me 
pale. Later I was to learn to discriminate between 
sounds of pain. There is the loud outcry of the man 
who is not in extreme pain, but whose nerves have 
been so battered by shock, exposure and continued 
strain that he is no longer master of himself. Sec- 
ond, there is the scream of the man, also suffering 
from shock and abnormally sensitive, who howls at 
the mere approach of the doctor. 

And finally, there is the cry of the plucky soul, 
strong to endure, but whose agony has passed the 


limit of human endurance. Such a cry, bursting out 
across the ward, simply stampedes the nerves ; heard 
suddenly in the middle of the night it would fetch 
one out of bed in a single leap, panic-stricken with 
horror; and even in a big hospital, where innumer- 
able sounds of pain blunt the ear, it still takes the 
right of way, momentarily stilling the air. As the 
days went on I was to learn these fine discriminations ; 
but at present all screams were alike to me. I gave 
each one full value, one hundred per cent of an- 

While the dressing proceeded I looked about me. 
Salle Eighty-three was a spacious airy room, lofty- 
ceiled, with tessellated stone floors, and long French 
windows on two sides. One set of windows gave 
upon the rear of the building, and the other side 
opened on a charming French garden round which 
the huge structure is built, one room deep, in the 
shape of a hollow square. Inside the salle the beds 
were ranged round the four sides and came halfway 
down the center, forming thus two passages that 
were none too wide for the busy morning traffic. 

Everyone, I perceived, was already working under 
a full head of steam. Two doctors were in the ward, 
one on each side, and the dressings were progressing 
steadily from bed to bed. A nurse preceded the doc- 
tors, cutting down the bandages. The air was thick 
with cries and groans, the cry of "Doucement! Easy 
there!" prevailing high above all others like a mo- 


notonous refrain. French military orderlies were 
hurrying about, their arms piled high with stained 
linen; two blowzy-cheeked little femmes de chambre 
were down on their knees scrubbing the stone floor, 
their tongues and their sabots clattering together. 
Ahead of them a bent old woman, with a great red 
hooked nose and a wide toothless smile, hideous as 
one of Shakespere's witches, was passing from bed 
to bed, gathering up the cigarette butts, chaffing the 
men and exchanging with them jests as broad as they 
were good-natured. 

It was evident she was a prime favorite, for it was 
^' Grand* merer* "Grand'merer* straight down the 
line, and chuckles followed in the wake of her sallies 
like bubbles on a stream. Here and there patients 
able to sit up in bed had removed their chemises and 
were soaping their chests with gusto. These Grande- 
mere favored with take-offs on their manly beauty. 
Bursts of laughter punctuated her hits. 

"Here are your men," said Miss Ransome, joining 
me — "these twelve. You're not responsible for the 
others. Suppose you begin with Claudius there. 
Wash him. Rub his back with alcohol. Then make 
his bed. Watch out for his broken leg!" she cau- 

And she nodded toward that unfortunate member, 
which, swathed as stiff as that of a mummy and 
dotted with numerous little rubber tubes that 
sprouted up through the bandages like unnatural 


flowers, was swung out upon an extension and held 
taut by a jungle of pulleys and bags and weights. 

"He's had a hard time," she continued in a lowered 
voice. "What with losing his eye and getting his 
leg infected — you see, he lay wounded four days and 
four nights on the battlefield, without water, before 
he was finally rescued — he's had a tough pull. For 
weeks we thought he would die. But he fooled us all — 
didn't you, Claudius ?" 

As she spoke English, the boy did not understand. 
He lay regarding her with a bright dark eye, all the 
brighter for the black patch which covered its com- 
panion ; and finally he asked in tones of weary polite- 

"You said, mees.?" 

"Change all his linen," she pursued unheeding. 
"He can raise himself an inch or two. When he's 
finished, go straight down the line and do the same 
to the others. I can't help you much this morning." 

And she hurried away, leaving me with my first 
task — to wash the back and change the entire bed 
linen of a man who could not stir more than an inch 
or two without exquisite pain ! 

"Bonjour," I said by way of commencement. 
"Comment ga va? — How goes it?" 

"Bad. Very bad. That imbecile pig of a leg! 
Not a moment's rest did it give me last night. 
Cramp, cramp, cramp !" He clenched and unclenched 
his fist with nervous irritability to indicate the nature 


of the pain, while the flare of crimson in his thin 
cheeks testified to a heightened temperature. "I 
wish you'd cut it off to-night," he growled, "and 
stand it over in the corner." 

"I will — with my scissors," I promised. "And to- 
morrow, if it's been good, we'll fasten it back on with 
safety pins." 

"You needn't bother," he grinned. 

With many gaspings and painful grimaces he got 
hold of an overhead hand grip, dug his head deep into 
the pillow and managed to raise himself until his back 
described a parabola perhaps two inches above the 
bed. "Quick! Quick!" he commanded breathlessly. 
I washed him as best I could. Afterward I glanced 
up at the chart hanging behind his bed and read 
there: "Simondon, Claudius. Age, 21. Wounded 
May 25, 1916. Admitted June 7, 1916." Claudius, 
aged twenty-one, had already white hairs in his head, 
and his slight figure was shrunken and yellow and 
dry, like that of a little old man. At the same time 
there was about him something unquenchably boyish 
and debonair, which made one wish to weep. 

"Have you ever been in a charge?" I asked, to 
divert his attention. 

"Yes; ten of them. Not interesting! Not inter- 
esting at all ! You stand there in a trench, water up 
to your knees, holding your gun and waiting for the 
order. You are cold, and still you perspire. You 
tremble with agitation. Maybe you stand thus for 


hours. Or you climb over the parapet and run. If 
the Bodies retreat, yes, then it is interesting. If 
they come on, no, not interesting. Not interesting at 
all !" And he looked up at me with his sardonic grin. 
"War," he added, "is the stupidest game that a fellow 
with wits can play at." 

A minute later he confided to me that he was to 
receive a decoration. He was to receive the Croix de 

"But that is fine !" I exclaimed. 

"Ah, you think so?" jeered Claudius. "It's very 
fine, without doubt; but as for me, I'd rather have 
my eye than that pretty little medal hung on my 
chest. Can I see the world with that little medal? 
Zutf I prefer my eye — thanks." 

For the moment his nonchalance completely de- 
ceived me. It was not until several days later when 
I came upon him unobserved, poring over the official 
notice of his decoration, and caught the look of 
pride, of emotion in the young face, that I really got 
the matter straight. Twenty-one is twenty-one the 
world over, and always hides its loves. 

After washing Claudius and rubbing his back with 
alcohol, I made his bed. In France the bed is a sacred 
institution and the making of one is not a proper 
subject for jest. But I am not jesting when I say 
that the ordinary, casually made American bed, with 
its opportunities for ventilation and its light loose 
covers which one may kick joyously down to the foot 


in the morning, would fill the average Frenchwoman 
with amazement and scorn. 

A French bed is something in the nature of a 
cocoon, with a hole in the upper right-hand corner, 
into which one artfully insinuates oneself at night, 
and from which one artfully disengages oneself in the 
morning. All apertures, save the small one at the 
top, are hermetically sealed — so tightly are the sheets 
drawn under the mattress, so smoothly are the covers 
laid on, so exquisitely are the corners mitered. One 
is all but sewed into bed. 

To make such a bed is to produce a work of art, 
a creation. Thus, Jean and Marie made my bed 
every morning at the hotel, folding on each layer as 
close as the successive skins of an onion, while I 
watched them with respectful admiration. Once, feel- 
ing too warm in the middle of the night, I tried to 
remove a blanket. I struggled until four o'clock the 
next morning. Next time I am going to send for 
professional wreckers. 

But the making of such a bed is, after all, a com- 
paratively simple affair — for I am not in it ! Let us 
denominate it Class C in order of difficulty. Class B 
is the making of such a bed with an occupant, but 
an occupant who can help himself — stir about. 
Class A is the making of such a bed with an immov- 
able man in it ; a man, moreover, attached to a net- 
work of apparatus — cords, pulleys, overhead weights 
and drains, all in such delicate adjustment that to 


jar any of them will wrench a cry of torture from the 

To this last class belonged the bed of Claudius. 
When, after three-quarters of an hour's labor, punc- 
tuated by many exclamations of "Doucement! 
Doucementr I straightened myself, Claudius was 
rather white and I was perspiring freely. Still, that 
bed was made — it really should be written Made ! — 
and I surveyed it proudly. The lower sheet in par- 
ticular had been difficult to dispose properly. To 
me it appeared at least twice too long for the mat- 
tress, and in the end I had simply wadded up the 
extra yards of length and tucked them under the 

It was during this latter operation when Justin, 
the orderly, came upon me. Justin is a squat, gro- 
tesque little old man, with the head of a gargoyle set 
on powerful Atlas-like shoulders. Being an orderly 
is his metier. He has been one in a French military 
hospital for twenty years, which is to say that Justin 
is a very wise man. I believe he could give points 
to Solomon, for Solomon was not a Frenchman. He 
regarded my bungling efforts for a moment in silence, 
and then said in tones of grave reproach : 

"Ah, mademoiselle, it is not thus we make a bed 
in France ! Permit me." 

Saying which, he stripped the bed bare to the 
mattress and made it afresh, with the subtle perfec- 
tion of Jean and Marie. My crumpled undersheet 


was drawn taut as a drumhead. Followed in swift 
succession the drawsheet, the top sheet and the 
blankets, smooth as rose petals and as firmly fixed. 

Where, meantime, was Claudius, with his weak 
back, his smashed leg and his jungle of apparatus? 
Not a single cry had escaped him. A glance showed 
his thin dark face alight with amusement as he 
watched old Justin teach the strange "mees" how to 
make a bed with a live Frenchman in it. 

"Via!" said Justin, straightening himself. "That's 
the way we make a bed in France !" And he padded 
noiselessly off in his battered blue list slippers ; it had 
taken him exactly six minutes by the ward clock. 

The next bed, when I turned down the covers, re- 
vealed a patient whose linen was saturated and stiff 
with blood. Another undersheet to manipulate ! 

"Don't touch me ! Don't touch me !" came a faint 
moan from the pillows. 

"Where are you wounded?" I inquired, for this is 
the first fact a maker of beds must determine. 

"Both legs broken below the knees," was the feeble 

"Don't stop to do him now," said Miss Ran- 
some, approaching the bed. "He's just been 
brought in and is going up for operation. You can 
make his bed while he is away. Look at those feet !" 
she exclaimed, pointing. 

I looked. Beneath the caked and dried blood from 
his wounds the mud of the Somme was ground into 


his skin until it was blackened as if from powder. 

"Some of them are worse than that!" said she. 
"Last week there came in to us a little poiluy straight 
from the first-line trenches of Verdun. How long 
he had been without a wash even he himself did not 
know. The doctor gave one long-range sniff and 
said hastily: 'Send him to the baths!' It seemed, 
however, that he was not acquainted with baths — at 
least not in the *all-together' and in an American 
bath-tub; for the attendants said that he fought 
like a wild cat — and when he came back he was cry- 
ing! He had faced the cannon at Verdun; he had 
been smashed to pieces by a shell, and had his leg 
cut off up to his thigh with only a local anaesthetic 
without flinching; but he wept with fear at sight of 
an American bath and demanded to be sent back to 
the trenches !" 

The bedmaking went on, somewhat raggedly to be 
sure, for on those first days I was obsessed by an 
absurd and fantastic fear that sometime when I 
pulled away the drawsheet I should pull away also a 
mangled leg upon it. There was one bed, however, 
which I grew to enjoy making, and that was the bed 
of Grandpere — fat, dirty, profane, cross-grained, 
whimsical old Grandpere. He was notorious in the 
ward as a grouch. Claudius declared that he had 
been jilted in love and had had the "black butter- 
flies" ever since. He was what is known as an end- 
less-chain smoker. He lighted one cigarette from the 


end of another and kept going the entire day through, 
with the result that his chemise front was always full 
of little burnt holes and powdered thick with ashes. 

Nor was his bed much better. One swept out of 
it each morning aluminum filings, chunks of bread, 
apple parings, handkerchiefs, books, nutshells, let- 
ters, as well as innumerable little pillows and pads 
with which Grandpere combated the hated "currents 
of air" from the open windows. The fact was, he 
got no peace day or night from a badly infected leg, 
and sometimes he was hard driven for diversion. 

Between him and a certain substitute nurse in the 
ward there existed a violent and mutual antipathy. 
She was an excellent nurse professionally, but hard, 
brusque in manner, and without a single word of 
French to build a bridge of sympathy between herself 
and her patients, among whom she was known as the 
old mitrailleuse. Between her and Grandpere was 
waged a fierce battle each morning over the making 
of his bed. She lectured him roundly in English for 
his untidiness, and Grandpere retorted volubly in 
French, with a vocabulary that would have enchanted 
a cow-puncher. She was displeased with the state of 
his chemises, and Grandpere was highly displeased 
with her displeasure. 

"What is she saying, the old mitrailleuse?" he 
would whisper to me, his little gray eyes gleaming 
with mischievous humor. "Why has she always the 
great anger?" 


**She says you smoke too much — that your bed is 
full of trash." 

"But, mon Dieu, that is my sole distraction ! And 
what else?" 

"She says you burn holes in your chemise and that 
it is always covered with ashes." 

"But — my word ! — does she know nothing, then, of 
the laws of Nature — the old Anglaise! — that ashes 
always tumble downward, not upward; and that fire 
always burns ? Can I make the ashes go upward into 
the air ? I am not God. I am only a Frenchman." 

An hour later he would beckon me secretly over 
to his side, point to a fresh perforation of his chemise, 
a fresh sprinkling of ashes, and whisper gleefully : 

"Tell the old mitrailleuse to come and sweep me 
out again !" 

He enjoyed the encounters ! And as they were, 
indeed, his sole distraction through weary days, I 
sometimes humored him. 

The dressings, meantime, continued, with their un- 
ceasing accompaniment of groans and cries of 
"Doucementr* A young surgeon told me that douce- 
ment was the first French word he acquired; and 
undeniably it is the word oftenest heard during the 
dressings period. This does not signify that the pa- 
tients are, as a rule, given to outcry. On the con- 
trary, these young Frenchmen endure the intensest 
pain with a kind of smiling white fortitude that brings 
a furtive tear to the eye. 


Let me take, for example, the demeanors of the 
three whose beds are on a little sleeping porch on the 
terrace — Claudius, Fran9ois, Emile. Their being on 
the terrace carries its own significant hint of special 
weakness. Of these three, Claudius, when under eX' 
treme stress, shuts tightly his one eye, thrusts his 
knuckles into his mouth and bites them until they 
bleed. If the pain has shaken him unendurably, when 
the doctor and the nurses depart he puts a pillow 
over his face and weeps into it silently. 

Fran9ois, on the other hand, an idyllically hand- 
some aristocratic youth of twenty-one, with a 
smashed arm and leg, takes an opposite course. He 
looks his pain squarely in the face as if it were an 
adversary, with an assumption of nonchalant scorn. 
Under a particularly painful dressing or probe his 
eyes grow steel;]^ and narrow, while his lips under 
the little golden brown mustache begin to smile 
sternly. As the pain increases, that smile becomes 
more distinct, more contemptuous and challenging. 
I have a notion that secretly Fran9ois loves pain 
for the opportunity it affords him to test the fine 
unblunted steel of his young courage. 

Emile, a Breton lad of twenty-two, with a ball 
through his lungs, has a different reaction. He 
hoists himself painfully up in bed, stares out upon 
the garden with his mystical blue eyes, coughs, 
winces; and at the end he lays himself down again, 
gasping, and says gently, "Sank you, mees !" That 


is all, a soft "Sank you, mees!" spoken m English 
to please me ! Of those three reactions Emile's is the 
hardest to bear. 

In lively contrast to these is the conduct of Grand- 
pere. Grandpere no longer has any romantic illu- 
sions to sustain, no youthful reticences. The first 
article in his creed is that if you suffer pain you 
should yell. If it makes you feel better, begin to 
yell beforehand. And curse ! Use all the powers of 
protest the good God has given you. Accordingly 
from the first to the last moment of a dressing he lets 
himself out, so to speak, and the entire ward chuckles 
over his choice list of epithets. 

But, despite the amount of concentrated pain that 
it holds, the big airy ward is much more a place of 
laughter than of depression and gloom. Wlien the 
dressings are finished, and the aftermath of painful 
throbbing has died down, the natural life and vivacity 
of fifty Frenchmen reassert themselves. They banter 
and chaff each other and discuss every discussible or 
undiscussible subject under the sun. Naturally the 
present struggle comes in for the lion's share of de- 
bate; nor is the feeling concerning it by any means 
unanimous. In that small bedfast community are 
ardent imperialists, conservatives, radicals, syndical- 
ists and philosophic anarchists ; and each one of them 
takes a hack at the great conflict from his own angle 
of vision. Nor have they within them the hate for 
the German that seems to animate some of the spec- 


tators on the side lines. At any rate he is not a 
monster ; in fact, one was forced to believe from their 
many stories of good will that the average German 
was really almost human ! 

"What do you think of the Germans?" a young 
soldier asked me suddenly one day as I was taking his 

"Their methods, you mean? I thought there were 
no two opinions on that." 

"Very well!" he retorted. "Then you take the 
French side and I'll take the German side, and we'll 
discuss the subject. Begin, if you please." 

"No; you begin!" I said, rather curious to hear 
what a wounded Frenchman would have to say in 
defense of his foe. 

He talked for ten minutes, brilliantly, earnestly, 
caustically, holding the thermometer like a cigarette 
in one corner of his mouth ; and at the end of that 
time he had proved not indeed that the Germans were 
right, but that war itself was so intrinsically de- 
grading and hellish — despite what romanticists might 
say to the contrary of its elevating spiritual effect on 
the soul — that it exerted a debasing influence on 
whoever engaged in it, be he German, French, Eng- 
lish, Russian or American. 

"War is a rotten business for the individual," he 
wound up soberly. "And don't let them sidetrack 
you by saying it's the Germans. They're not mon- 
sters. It's war itself that's the monster. It's a bad 


microbe. A mean little soul it poisons, and a big 
soul it poisons also. The physical wounds — like 
this," he touched his bandaged shoulder — "you can 
see. The wounds on the soul are invisible. But, be- 
lieve me, they exist just the same, and are even more 
ghastly. I know!" And he handed back the ther- 
mometer with a smile. 

The real word-battles, however, take place between 
themselves. Sometimes an argument lasts for weeks, 
and they have a go at it every fine afternoon, wres- 
tling with each other like the conversational experts 
they are. Sometimes it is only a brief but hot dis- 
pute. It was one of the latter that took place about 
a month after my arrival, between Fran9ois and 
Claudius. That particular afternoon a concert was 
impending. It was to be given in the garden by a 
crack Belgian military band, and programs had just 
been handed round. 

Claudius looked over his card and I saw his ex- 
pressive face darken. 

"The Marseillaise isn't down !" he exclaimed. "If 
they haven't the courtesy to play the French national 
air to wounded French soldiers in a French military 
hospital, I, for one, shall not listen to their old con- 
cert. I shall sleep !" 

Saying which, he scornfully tossed the program 
over into the garden and composed himself for 
slumber. But Fran9ois, who was feeling gay that 
day, could not permit such a remark to pass. 


"I don't think so highly of that Marseillaise !" he 
remarked languidly, but with the light of battle in 
his eyes. "It's not a good song. On the contrary, 
it's a very bad song." 

Claudius' one eye popped wide open. He fairly 
leaped into the combat. 

"What !" he exclaimed, flushing with anger. "You 
say the Marseillaise is not a good song? You say 
this is not good ?" And, propping himself up on one 
elbow, his eye still blazing, he chanted the immortal 
battle cry : 

** 'Aua: armeSf citoyens! 
Formez vos bataillons! 
Marchons! Marchons! 
Qu'un sang impur, 
Ahreuve nos sillons* 

"Voilar* cried Claudius, his voice shaky with emo- 
tion. "You dare to say that is not a good song?" 

"Ah, the music's all right," admitted Fran9ois 
loftily. "It's the words." 

"And what's the matter with the words? Why 
aren't they good?" 

"Why?" said Fran9ois coolly. "Because they in- 
cite to carnage! 'Formez vos bataillons T But what 
for? To kill somebody ! No, no ; such words are not 

The irrefutable logic of this, Claudius chose to 


''You are not a true Frenchman," He declared 

Fran9ois began to smile — the cold distinct smile of 
the dressing hour. He glanced round for a weapon. 
A cup of wine stood on his bedside table. His fingers 
closed round it. 

"Say that again !" he remarked pleasantly. 

Claudius' hand had likewise gripped his wineglass. 
Of the two he was much more passionate. He glared 
hardily and began: 

"You're not a " 

The head nurse appeared opportunely on tHe 

"Fran9ois," she said severely, "you know you 
mustn't drink that wine when you're going up for 
operation !" 

Fran9ois looked at the nurse, at me, at the wine 
in his cup, and from thence to Claudius, who by now 
was grinning broadly. 

"I wasn't going to drink it," he observed mildly. 
"I was going to give it to the camarade, there !" 

And he proflf ered it gravely to Claudius, who drank 
it down with equal politeness ; then suddenly both of 
them tumbled back on their pillows and went off into 
boyish little yips of laughter under the startled eyes 
of the nurse. And, to finish off the episode, the Bel- 
gian band really played the Marseillaise after all. 

The first few weeks I was in the ward we were 
enlivened each morning by the performance of 


Clarice. Clarice was a hen ; and every day, at pre- 
cisely ten o'clock, she laid an egg. It happened in 
this way : There was a young one-armed soldier, an 
opera singer before the war, who, for the amusement 
of his companions, would lie upon his bed and with 
his voice conjure all the animals of the farmyard into 
lively existence. The deep growl of the watchdog, 
the grunting of a pig, the whickering of horses down 
in the meadow, the lordly crow of the cock, the busy 
cackling of the hen — he reproduced them all with 
startling realism. The hen, in particular, he loved to 

The sound would start suddenly under one of the 
hospital beds — the low Tuck-tuck, tuck-a-tuck ! of a 
hen talking softly to herself as she scratched in the 

"Sh! It's Clarice! She's going to lay an egg\^^ 
somebody would cry ; and all the ward held its breath 
during the operation. 

After a period of soft clucking — Tuck-tuck, tuck- 
tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck ! — which Clarice required 
to dispose herself suitably and discreetly upon her 
nest, a profound silence ensued. Clarice was laying 
her egg\ The men lay perfectly still, smiling ex- 
pectantly, glancing now and again at the clock. The 
hush was absolute. It was Clarice's moment. 

Presently a loud, triumphant cackle issued forth: 
Tuck-tuck, tuck-a-tuck, tuck-tuck, tuck-a-tuck ! The 
egg was an accomplished fact. And Clarice, her 


proud duty done, flew straight to her lord and master, 
who added his crow of patronizing approbation. The 
illusion of the performance was perfect, and little 
Clarice was a source of great delight to the men, 
who built round her all sorts of romances. 

"That's our little Clarice !" Emile explained to me 
the first time I heard her. "But she is admirable, 
that Clarice ! She lays an egg each morning ; and we 
give it to a sick camarade for his dejeuner!'* 

By the time the beds are made, clean bandages 
adjusted, vacant beds disinfected, the individual 
tables scrubbed and hot drinks fetched from the diet 
kitchen, the day is well under way. The dressings, 
meantime, proceed steadily down the ward. Some- 
times, after a new offensive, when the big war hos- 
pital has received a fresh influx of the wounded, every 
bed contains a battered wreck, these dressings fill the 
entire morning and continue straight through the 

Those are trying days for heart and head and feet. 
Through all the hours the busy stream of traffic flows 
constantly through this, the heaviest ward. There 
are men going up to operations on stretchers; men 
coming down from operations, unconscious, on 
stretchers ; men being discharged, with their meager 
little sack of possessions, also on stretchers. Good- 
bys are shouted — "Bon voyager "All aboard!" 
*'En voitureT Or the orderly enters with a batch of 
letters — letters from home. 


"Simondon !" he bawls cheerily. 

"Present !" 




"Discharged !" a voice volunteers. 

"Morel! . . . Morel! . . . Morel?" 

"Give me that letter," says the head nurse quietly, 
for Morel cannot receive it ; Morel is dead. 

At about half past ten, when the ward is in fair 
order, and the blesses under their fresh linen look like 
rows of good children in bed, the medicin chefy or 
chief surgeon, makes his rounds. As he approaches 
a bed its occupant salutes, and then listens with in- 
tense concentration to the strange English jargon of 
the ward doctor, who is making his daily report. 
Perhaps he catches the word "operation" — which 
every soldier knows. After the surgeon has passed 
he beckons and whispers eagerly: 

"What did he say? What did the medicin chef 
say ? Operation ?" 

I nod. "Only a little one. But no lunch to-day. 
No good pinardF' 

Pinard is the trench slang for wine, corresponding 
to the English "booze." That word, upon my lips, 
will nearly always bring a laugh from a poilu. But 
no laugh greets me this time. He sinks back upon 
his pillow, a little white and very quiet. The day has 
suddenly lost its color for him. 


After the great medicin chef — or God, as he is 
irreverently termed in the ward — ^has departed, with 
his halo of dread, dejeuner is the next important fea- 
ture of the day. Serving a community of fifty a 
three-course meal — soup, meat and vegetables, and 
dessert — is a man-size proposition. Serving it on bed 
tables, often cutting up the food and feeding the 
armless patients, further complicates the task. The 
first day I completely lost my head. My clamorous 
young brood, nine of whom were under twenty-two, 
reminded me of nothing so much as a nestful of yawp- 
ing baby robins waiting to be fed. 

It was: "Look out for my leg, mees!" *'More 
bread, mees!" "My serviette, mees!" "Have you 
forgotten me, mees?" "My God, my soup's tipped 
into my bed ! I'm afloat, mees !" And all in a rapid 
bubble of French that made my head spin. At last, 
in sheer desperation, I addressed them in the Ameri- 
can language: "You darned kids — shut up!" As 
was usual in those first days, it was old Justin who 
came to my aid and disentangled me. 

The patients' dejeuner over, the auxiliaires have 
three-quarters of an hour off for their own, which 
they may get at the hospital or at some of the neigh- 
boring patisseries. As for me, that first day I choked 
down a few mouthfuls and then retired to the vestiaire 
to rest my feet. 

The afternoon was cut off the same piece of clothi 
as the morning — more beds, more dressings, more 


bandages, more high shrill cries, more gayety and 
laughter. But about four o'clock in the afternoon 
something began to happen. It began to happen in 
bed Number Ten. Its occupant, a handsome dark lad 
of eighteen, had a gangrenous arm, the sight of which, 
with its deep gashes to let out the poison, turned 
one faint with horror. All the morning, at intervals, 
I had held a basin while he retched, or fetched hot- 
water bottles. 

About four o'clock he began to babble of his 
mother, his brothers and sisters, and his home in the 
country. He laughed, chatted, cried out "Mamanr 
repeatedly, and tried to rise to go to her. Presently 
it was found necessary to strap his supple, strong 
young body to the mattress. At the time I had not 
the faintest notion that he was already in the ante- 
chamber of death, so alive he was, so palpitant with 
restless energy. 

Suddenly he lay still. I had turned to get another 
hot-water bottle. "Never mind !" said the nurse, and 
at some quality in her voice I paused, startled, and 
looked again. He was gone. His passing had been 
as light and unpretentious as a breath of air through 
the open window. 

After he was carried out I disinfected his bed and 
made it afresh, in a strange convulsion of soul. Thus 
I had my first glimpse of that vast, interminable pro- 
cession which must haunt the dreams of ambitious 


As yet, I have been to no battlefronts. I have 
letters, to be sure, which if presented in the proper 
quarters, I am told, would result in personally con- 
ducted trips to lines not engaged in an actual offen- 
sive. But those letters still lie, unsent, in my trunk. 
I may use them some day. But at present there is 
within me a reluctance to visiting ruins and battle- 
fields. Perhaps it is because I have seen so many 
ruins who have returned from those battlefields. 

Moreover, I have already been to the Front and I 
have made a charge. It was a hand-grenade charge, 
under the leadership of one Sergeant Girod, who since 
then has been awarded the Croix de Guerre. The 
announcement of the award reads, "For conspicuous 
bravery in leading a brilliant hand-grenade attack 
against the enemy while under fire from our own 
mitrailleuses.'* I know it was a brilliant attack, for 
I made it with him. It happened in this way: 

It was six o'clock in the evening, and the big salle, 
with its forest of overhead apparatus, was wrapped 
in warm darkness, through which the bright, glow- 
ing ends of cigarettes bloomed like tiny stars. The 
electricity was out of order and the sole lights — two 
tall candles on the head nurse's desk in the middle 
of the room, with their straight still flames — lent an 
air of enchantment to the place. The men, their 
suppers over, lay smoking tranquilly, or chatted in 
undertones. To me it was the pleasantest hour of the 
day. I had lingered to make up another bed, the 


occupant for which, a fresh arrival, had not yet come 
down from the operating room. 

"Can you stay a few minutes?" called the head 
nurse as she hurried past me. "I am called away; 
the nurses are down at first supper, and someone 
should be here when your man arrives." 

I promised to remain. A few minutes later the 
big double doors were flung open and a dark jumbled 
mass appeared. The same instant a loud shout shat- 
tered the quiet gloom : 

**En avantf mes enfants! Vive la France! En 
avant! Toujours en avant! lis approchent! Les 
Boches! Les infidels! Les brigands! lis appro- 
chent a gauche! Regardez a gauche! A gauche! — 
They're approaching on the left! Look out on the 
left — En avant, mes enfants! Toujours en avant!'' 

It was a shout that would send a thrill along a 
dead man's spine. A ripple of laughter went round 
the room. Raised heads peered eagerly. The bran- 
cardiers came forward, two wheeling the stretcher 
and two more holding down the occupant, who was 
struggling convulsively to raise himself and shouting 
hoarse commands in a voice that could be heard a 
block away. 

"Where does he go, mees.''" came Justin's steady 

"Here—Bed Eight.'' 

"En avant! En avant, mes enfants! Regardez h 
gauche! A gauche! lis approchent a gauche! Les 


Boches, Us approchentr* The hoarse shouts did not 
cease for an instant. 

"He's leading a charge," said Justin, grimly 
pleased, as they paused beside me. "Hand grenades ! 
He's a terrible fellow. He killed ten Boches coming 
down the stairs !" 

Then, all together, with a "Uriy deux, trois — 
AllezF* the four lifted him from the stretcher into 

He was a powerfully built man, fair, with blue 
eyes and a blond mustache, and his chemise, torn 
away in the struggle, revealed a torso that gleamed 
like ivory. Suddenly he looked up and gripped me 
with a hand of iron. 

"Criez avec moi: 'Vive la France!* " 

"Vive la France!" I repeated in a low voice, to 
soothe him. 

"Louder! Shout louder: "Vive la France!** 

"Vive la France!** I said more loudly. "Lie still 
now. It's over. The attack is finished." 

"And the Boches.'"' he queried eagerly. "They are 
gone ?" 

"All gone." 

"No, no!" he cried violently, trying to rise. 
"They're not gone! They're still coming on! My 
God, see them ! Wave on wave ! Regardez a gauche, 
mes enfants! Les Boches! Les brigands! Ah, my 
poor comrades !" he murmured. "See them fall !" He 
turned to me, whom evidently he took for one of his 


grenadiers: "Citronne went down just then. Did 
you see him? Was he killed?" 

"No ; only wounded. Be quiet now. It's done." 

"But not well done," he retorted impatiently. 
"We hadn't enough balls. To-night we attack again. 
Listen well !" 

And then he gave me my orders. It appeared that 
on each side of us were Moroccan troops who were 
to follow our attack with a charge. For a few 
minutes Girod was silent. Suddenly he broke out: 

"Boom! Soisante-quinzer* — the French seventy- 
fives. "Boom! Les canonsT He appeared to be 
listening to the bombardment. Presently he sighed. 
"Ah, my poor wife ! My poor Cecilie ! You know, I 
have a wife and three children — two boys and a girl." 

It was evident to me that the sergeant had a 
presentiment that he was going to fall in the attack. 
After a long silence his voice came to me abruptly 
out of the dark : 

"What time is it?" 

I named the hour. 

"Well, then, my friend, we have still ten minutes. 
Let us smoke a cigarette before we part." A second 
later he was shouting at the top of his powerful 
voice : 

^'En avant, mes enfants! lis approchent! Les 
Bodies! Regardez a gauche! A gauche!" 

Over and over he issued his commands to his grena- 
diers ; over and over he shouted his warning cry, call- 


ing frantically for bombs that were not forthcoming ; 
and always he was driven back, despairing, by the 
tide of Germans on his left. His brain, like a talk- 
ing-machine record, had recorded faithfully every 
detail of that last wild, brilliant attack, terminating 
so disastrously because of the shortage of balls ; and 
in his delirium he played that one record ceaselessly, 
with no thought, action or sensation omitted. But 
as the hours went by the record played slowly and 
more slowly, with gaps of silence in between. Finally 
he slept. 

There is another chapter to add to this episode 
concerning Girod. It happened some three weeks 
later. And as this is not fiction, but a plain report- 
ing of facts, I hasten to add that Girod did not die. 

Passing his bed, however, one afternoon, I laid my 
hand casually on the iron bed-frame. It was trem- 
bling. The entire bed was vibrating steadily, gently, 
as if to the oscillation of some remote earthquake. 
Astonished, I looked at Girod. And Girod was trem- 
bling too. It was he who caused the tremor of the 
bed. Beneath the white coverlet his big body shook 
with a ceaseless, mysterious agitation. 

"What is the matter?" I cried. "Why are you 
trembling like that?" 

He gave a faint, apologetic smile, 

"I'm afraid !" he said simply. "I'm afraid of tHat 
operation this afternoon." 

"But it's nothing," I assured him — "really nothing 


at all. Only a slight incision in the shoulder.'* 

"I know. But — I'm afraid! You see " He 

broke off, knitting his brows. "It was not always 
thus. Once I did not know what fear was — ^be- 
fore That's why they made me leader of the 

bombing squad. I was reckless. But now — ^I'm 
afraid. I'm afraid of that little operation 1" 

"You've been under a strain," I said. 

I recalled Girod's history. He had narrated it to 
me one rainy afternoon. From his wife, Cecilie, and 
his three children, he had not heard a word since the 
war opened, as they lived in the invaded territory. 
For the last six weeks before he was wounded he 
and his comrades had been in the first-line trenches, 
unrelieved, without food save for their reserve stores ; 
and without water, unless one crawled on one's belly 
at night to a spring in the dangerous strip of 
No Man's Land between them and the enemy's 

Each night he crawled to the spring, filled his 
canteen and crawled back to his wounded companions. 
And then came one night when the spring failed. 

"I crawled out there, as usual," Girod related, 
"and found it full of cadavers !" 

"And after that ?" I persisted. 

But Girod made no reply. 

"It's the strain, the heavy strain," I said again. 

A nurse — the one known as the mifrailleuse — at 
that instant passed his bed. 


"What's the matter with him?" she demanded 
brusquely. "What's he shaking for?" 

"The operation," I said. "He fears it. It's the 
strain he's been under so long " 

"Pooh!" she broke out impatiently. "Some of 
these men can't stand pain any better than a baby !" 

As the days and the weeks go by the ward changes. 
Men recover or die, or are discharged to convalescent 
hospitals; and fresh wrecks appear in their places, 
sleep in their beds, and smile up to one from the pil- 
low. The big salle is an antechamber, with exits 
leading both ways — out into the great adventure of 
life and out into the still greater adventure of death. 
At the end of three months scarcely a single familiar 
face remains. But the exit leading back into life is 
always open. The recovered men return. 

An aviator, whose leg had been amputated at the 
hospital, comes to announce that he is to have the 
honor of returning to the Front. He is the last of 
his class of eight — and he must fly with a wooden 

Even Claudius has been discharged. He has gone 
home to his mother and sister, of whom he is the sole 
support. A letter from him lies before me. 

"My leg is no good," he writes, "and I never shall 
be able to use it to work. What shall I do? I shall 
have to ride that leg all day in a carriage! But 
where ajn I to get the carriage? I shall go to 
America! Do you think some rich — and pretty — 


young American mees would marry me and let me 
ride in her carriage?" 

That, indeed, would be a solution for Claudius ! 
And I am making his modest wants known, with the 
hopes that some pretty — and rich — young American 
"mees" may wish to take a flyer on a young French- 
man, considerably smashed but with his sense of 
humor intact. If she should, and can guarantee the 
carriage, I will send her Claudius' address. 


Every hour wounds; 
The last one kills. 

Old French Couplet on the Clock Tower of the American 
Ambulance, at Neuilly. 

When, one morning in Paris, I received orders to 
report without delay to the big American war hos- 
pital in Neuilly, and begin work there as a volunteer 
nurse's aid, I suddenly found myself reluctant, even 
rebellious; though it was precisely for that reason, 
and no other, that I had come to France. But I 
had just arrived in Paris and already that city of 
enchantments had cast its spell on me. I did not 
want to work — I never want to work. I wanted, I 
scarcely knew what : to taste Paris again ; to breathe 
her air, which affects one like a mild champagne; 
to stroll about and enjoy her noble proportions and 
beautiful distances. I did not wish to be swallowed 
up immediately by another piece of work, no matter 
how fine or inspiring. 

There were a few specials little, no-account per- 
sonal things I wished to do first ; I wanted to revisit 



the tomb of Napoleon and ask the little old gentle- 
man reposing down there below what he thought of 
the present situation; I wanted to renew acquaint- 
ance with Rodin's statue, The Thinker, in front of 
the Pantheon, to see whether it cast as big a shadow 
as ever ; I wanted to wander through the leafy alleys 
of the Luxembourg Garden, decorated with marble 
gods and goddesses and given over to the naive de- 
lights of student lovers ; I wanted to stroll once more 
up the Champs-Elysees in the twilight and see the 
Arc de Triomphe, gravely beautiful, looming solidly 
against the sky; I wanted to view again the statue 
of Jeanne d'Arc; I wanted to taste once more some 
Vouvray and see whether the world would turn into 
an enchanted bubble again; I wanted to discover 
whether the same immemorial fishermen were still fish- 
ing on the banks of the Seine — for dead cats, Mark 
Twain declared. These are but seven samples of the 
things I wanted to do. In brief, I wanted to loaf. 

"But you can't!" said the crisp English nurse 
executive at the hospital, to whom I confided these 
noble ambitions. "In the first place, we need you. In 
the second place, we've got to have you. And in the 
third place, Paris just now is no place for loafers. 
With this present offensive on and so many of our 
staff completely worn out — do you know there are 
women working here who have not had a day off in 
twenty months? — we need every pair of hands that 
are available. Now, when can you come ? Monday ?" 


This was Wednesday, and there was a nurse's out- 
fit to buy, matriculation papers to procure at the 
Prefecture, and other odds and ends of official red 
tape to tie, which would take every hour of my time. 
But I was conquered. I acquiesced. My hopes of a 
holiday went a-glimmering. Hereafter, what I see of 
Paris in wartime will be hasty glimpses, caught on 
the fly ; for it will be dark when I rise, at six-thirty, 
button myself into my infirmiere's blouse, swallow my 
morning draft of chicory au lait, whose sole virtue 
is that it is so hot it scalds me all the way down; 
and it is dark again when in the evening, at six- 
thirty, the day's work done, I bundle into the Red 
Cross omnibus, which takes the auxiliary workers 
back to the Subway. 

During the first week in the hospital the sheer 
physical strain was terrific. It seemed as if I were 
in a strange, mad, nightmare world, where everything 
was reversed; instead of health — disease, and man- 
gled and torn bodies and suppurating wounds, some 
of them hideously green and yellow, like decayed 
meat; and smashed wrecks of men, with arms and 
legs swung up on apparatus that resembled noth- 
ing so much as the old torture racks of the Inquisi- 
tion; as if shrieks and cries and groans and smells 
were the natural and normal order of things. For 
days I was nauseated. The sight of raw mangled 
flesh, the blood-saturated linen, the stench of gan- 
grenous wounds, the nervous strain of bandaging 


freshly amputated stumps, and the screams of the 
dressing hour simply bombarded the unaccustomed 
senses and hit the newcomer fairly in the pit of the 
stomach. When I confessed this to the ward surgeon 
he laughed. 

"That's nothing — the rebellion of healthy nature 
against disease. When I was at the Front, at the 
commencement of the war, at one of the base hos- 
pitals, I used to retire and gag at regular intervals. 
It was awful, for we had nothing to work with. But 
mobilize your emotions. Don't let them mobilize you. 
Imitate the sang-froid of the poilu. Yesterday I 
stopped by the bed of a youngster who's had a leg 
off and is dying of gangrene. ^Well, how goes it?' I 
asked him. *C« va, Ca va mieux.^ — It goes. It goes 
better, he replied simply. And he was dead up to his 
waist already ! He was a dead man he knew it, and 
he knew that I knew that he knew it; and still he 
looked me straight in the eye and said 'It goes. It 
goes better!' There's mobilization of spirit for 

Nevertheless, when the dressings were over I 
breathed relief. Never did I learn to control my 
nerves completely; to listen without a tremor to the 
cries of pain, the high, piercing screams, "O/i, Za, la!" 
*^Ah, Nom de DieuF* "Ah, doucement, docteur! 
Easy there!" ''Oh, hon Dieu, how I suffer!" The 
quality of pure agony in those broken cries was too 
much for me. 


It was on trying occasions like these that Justin, 
the old French orderly, came to my aid, showing me 
exactly how to hold a broken leg; how to wind a 
difficult bandage with comfort and security ; how to 
lift a heavy patient without injury to myself or to 

Justin deserves a separate paragraph all to him- 
self, a separate little niche in heaven. Kipling's 
celebrated Gunga Din had nothing on him — for 
Gunga Din had no sense, only goodness ; while Justin 
is a Frenchman, with all a Frenchman's natural in- 
telligence and sardonic humor. He had been an or- 
derly in a French military hospital for twenty years ; 
and what he did not know about sick humanity — 
their weakness and irritability, their heroisms and 
long, long patience — was not worth knowing. From 
morning to night he went trotting noiselessly about 
the ward in his old blue list slippers ; dirty aproned ; 
squat, ugly and strong as a gorilla; vulgar, gay, 
resolute and as tender-fingered as a woman. And 
the men leaned on him as on an elder brother. 

All day long it was : "Justin, a basin — quick !" 
"Justin, lift me up!" "Justin, this plaster cast is 
killing me !" "Ah, Justin, how I suffer !'* 

And Justin's steady, cheerful voice would reply: 
"I come, mon enfant.''^ "There, mon petitT* "That 
goes better, mon petit brave, eh?" 

Once only did I see him in a passion. Some negli- 
gent person had bound a damp bandage too tightly 


about a fractured leg ; drying, it contracted still fur- 
ther ; the result was acute torture. The soldier, a 
modest, shy lad, had appealed once or twice to a 
passing nurse; but the first big morning rush of 
dressings was on and no one heeded him. Minutes 
passed. The pain increased. Silently he began to 
weep. It was old Justin trotting past with a pail of 
soiled dressings who first noted the writhing young 
figure and caught a faint groan. He paused long 
enough to inquire: "What's the matter, petit?*' . 

The soldier indicated his leg. The orderly's face 
darkened as he looked. He set down the pail, undid 
the bandage and rewound it properly, muttering an- 
grily between his teeth the while. Presently a nurse 
bore down upon them. She was the one whom the 
men had nicknamed the old mitrailleuse — for reasons 
obvious. Competent enough technically, she had 
neither tenderness nor humanity nor gay spirits to 
commend her services to the men. She was like a 
soured, fibrous old schoolmistress, and the soldiers de- 
tested her cordially and, after the fashion of mis- 
chievous school-children, amused themselves by devis- 
ing fresh nicknames for her each day. 

Frenchmen love charm in a woman, and hate the 
reverse like a deformity. Accordingly, when she 
paused belligerently at the bedside, both Justin and 
the lad instinctively stiffened themselves. 

"What are you doing, Justin?" she cried sharply. 
"Let that bandage alone !" 


For an orderly to dare to rewrap a certificated 
nurse's bandage is, of course, a breach of etiquette. 
It is a situation that requires taet ; but Justin at 
that moment was far too angry for tact. Stolidly he 
continued his task. When the last safety pin was 
refastened he straightened himself and faced the 
nurse squarely. 

"Some imbecile, some cocJion of an infirmiere,'' he 
began, mentioning no names, "put a wet bandage on 
the leg of that poor child !" And then he continued 
suavely, in French — of which the nurse understood 
nothing beyond a few scattering words: "Ancient 
female camel! Daughter of the union of a cannon 
ball and a hippopotamus : Do you conceive that I, a 
Frenchman and a soldier, shall not do what is good 
for these, my little children? Nom de Dieu! Nom 
de Dieu!" And with a shrug of contempt he gath- 
ered up his slops and trotted away. 

It was not long after this late one afternoon, when 
Justin beckoned me with a stealthy finger. By this 
time we had become firm allies. At noon I saved him 
a cup of wine from the men's lunch and let him rest 
his aching feet and smoke a cigarette undisturbed 
behind a screen. And in return Justin taught me all 
the fine subtleties of his art. 

"You are very amiable, mees," he began now in a 
carefully lowered voice. "Will you help me ?" 

"What is it?" I asked; for by his conspirator air 
and his secrecy I knew he intended to achieve some- 


thing, by his own initiative, which was against the 

"It's Simondon, out on the terrasse,'' he mur- 
mured, still in guarded tones. "His new cast hurts 
him. Last night he did not sleep for pain, and to-day 
the pauvre petit has a temperature of thirty-nine. 
I'm going to take off that plaster and rewad it !" 

"But why don't you ask the nurse? It's her job, 
really. You and I have no right to touch that cast 
without permission." 

"Simondon won't let her come near. He's crazy 
with the pain. They've decided to wait for the doc- 
tor. But the doctor is up in the operating room, 
and the Sacred Virgin alone knows when he will re- 
turn." He led the way to the terrace, a sleeping 
porch which gave on the garden. 

I knew this Simondon. He had lost an eye and had 
a badly infected leg, due to four days and four nights 
spent on the field of battle, without food or water, 
before help came. As a consequence, of the five 
months spent in the hospital each separate hour had 
been a desperately fought struggle, a superb resist- 
ance of the spirit. 

Small wonder that, after all these long months, 
the cool nerve that rarely deserts a Frenchman had 
worn down to rather a fine thread! 

Upon the terrace we found him, a dark, painfully 
emaciated lad of twenty-one, his black hair already 
plentifully sprinkled with white from the hardships 


he had undergone. His cheeks were scarlet with 
fever, and in his torture he had bitten his lips until 
they were covered with a thin, bloody froth. 

"No, no ! You shan't touch it !" he began fiercely 
as we came up. 

"Courage, mon petit braveT soothed Justin. 
"Ten minutes, and it'll all be over and we'll have 
you up in the wheel chair. Say, old embusque! Will 
you have a small glass of cognac first?" 

"Don't you touch it !" breathed Simondon passion- 
ately between his teeth. "Get out of here !" 

"Hold up his leg, mees!" commanded Justin 
calmly. "Thus !" 

Obediently I held the leg, incased from thigh to 
heel in an open plaster cast, at the desired angle. 
Simondon let out a piercing yell. 

"Oh, bon Dieu! Oh, la, la! Wait!" Tears of 
agony streamed down his wasted cheeks. Wildly he 
tried to seize my hands. "Can't you hear me?" he 
sobbed. "Imbeciles ! Stop !" 

"Maybe we'd better," I murmured. 
But, with swift and sure precision, Justin had 
already begun to strip the bandages. 
"Higher !" he ordered briefly. 

Again Simondon made a furious swing at my 
wrists. Again he screamed madly. 
"Let's wait for the doctor," I urged. 
Justin never looked up. 
"Don't heed him, mees," he said simply. " 'Tis 


only his sickness speaking." Wise old Justin ! "Rest 
tranquil, petit" he added; and he nodded to the 
young sufferer, who, suddenly docile beneath the firm, 
ministering hands, returned him a quivering smile 
of obedience. "It's almost finished," murmured 

And indeed, in less time than it takes to tell, the 
cruelly binding plaster incasement was shed, extra 
layers of soft padding inserted, the cast readjusted 
and rebound; and Simondon, the tears still wet on 
his cheeks, was smiling happily and sipping a tiny 
glass of cognac. A half hour later, his fever abated 
and his red tasseled cap cocked rakishly over his one 
good eye, he was up in the wheel chair — for the first 
time in five months — and Justin was trundling him 
off for a brief promenade. 

By the sheer authority of his spirit, the squat, 
grotesque, vulgar little old man had achieved in a 
few minutes what two nurses had labored vainly over 
for an hour. Shortly after he was on his rounds 
again, at his perpetual dog-trot, carrying a basin 
and making, as he passed me, his invariable joke — 
that he was taking a small gift to the Kaiser! 

The first month in the big ward I was worked to 
death. But so was everybody else. Some of the 
nurses were ill, some of the auxiliaries were away, 
and an offensive was at its height. Consequently the 
rest of us worked under a terrific pressure. Ward 
Eighty-three, at that time the heaviest in the hos- 


pital, had over fifty beds, each one filled with a grand 
blesse. Fifty backs to wash; fifty beds to make; 
fifty dressings to cut down, change and rebandage ; 
fifty bedside tables to scrub ; fifty meals to serve on 
individual tables; fifty temperatures and pulses to 
take—to say nothing of a thousand and one odd 
jobs, such as hot compresses every hour, hot drinks, 
medicines, diets, wounds to irrigate, beds to disinfect, 
which kept nurses and aids racing dizzily straight 
through the day. And even then we were always 
behind our schedule ! The work was never done. 

If anyone is suffering from a broken heart or a 
general stagnation of life — what O. Henry called 
"slow pulse" — a big hospital ward during the rush of 
an offensive is a good place to lose it. But there are 
compensations; for a sick warrior is nothing after 
all but a sick child, docile, naive, craving for sym- 
pathy. He wants to be consoled for his suffering; 
he wants to be cured. He demands everything and 
gives everything. And at night as I passed, dog 
tired, down the ward, heads were raised, hands out- 
stretched; and the shower of cries of ^'Bonsoir, 
Mees !" — "a demaiuy Mees Californie !" — were sweeter 
than bouquets of roses thrown across the footlights 
to a reigning star. 

There were twelve soldiers for whose welfare I was 
specifically responsible, and who had the right to 
call me to their bedsides and demand whatsoever 
they pleased, from an extra piece of cotton batting 


over their toes to the reasons why there are so many 
divorces in my country. Of these twelve, nine were 
under twenty- three and two looked not a day over 
sixteen, rosy cheeked and downy. After the first 
mists of strangeness had cleared away, and I began 
to view things more normally, that was the first thing 
that struck me — the amazing youth of the man. De- 
spite their wounds and the stress of trench life in a 
brutal wintry climate, they fairly shouted life and 
vivid vitality. Their eyes were as clear as those of 
children, their laughter as fresh, their joy as spon- 

One morning I was washing the back of a young 
Breton lad whose torso, with its clean, flowing lines, 
would have delighted a sculptor. 

"Claude," I laughed, "you have a back almost as 
nice as Apollo's." 

"Yes, mees? Truly?" he cried, blushing and 
deeply pleased. 

I was puzzled by his delight, for Claude was a 
young coal miner who could not even sign his own 
name, and I knew he did not know Apollo from Moses. 
The next morning, as I was rubbing him down with 
alcohol, he twisted about to ask shyly : 

**Mees Californie, is my back still as nice as 

As I stared at him blankly he repeated the query 
in slightly different form ; and then the truth dawned 
upon me: he thought Apollo was some other boy in 


the ward whose back didn't have any bedsores! 

It would be a great mistake to conclude that the 
ward of a military hospital, simply because it is the 
container of so much concentrated pain, is, therefore, 
the natural abode of sadness and gloom. In the first 
place, the soldiers, taken as a whole, are not sick: 
they are only wounded — a vast difference. Save for 
their injuries, the majority of them are practically 
well men. In the second place, they are young, and, 
speaking again, in the large, magnificently healthy. 

Consequently the large airy ward, with its com- 
munity of bedfast inhabitants, resembles a menagerie 
of fifty playful cubs — each chained to his own post, 
to be sure, but capable, nevertheless, of considerable 
mischief — rather than the classic conception of a sick 
room, with lowered lights and voices. 

Pain there is, certainly, up to the limits of human 
endurance; but this is borne with a spirit, an ironic 
fortitude, which is a Frenchman's most natural pos- 
session. A soldier suffering the refined tortures of 
hell during the dressing of an infected wound is yet 
capable of making a jest with, twitching lips that will 
send his comrades off into spasms of laughter. 

Nor is this humor an affectation. It is his in- 
stinctive reaction to pain. And, as a reverse side of 
the same shield, he is also capable at such times of 
the finest flower of courtesy, such as saying simply, 
"Thank you, doctor !" to the man who has just cut 
off his leg without ether. 


But if he can and does endure intense pain su- 
perbly, it is no sign, as the school-boys say, that he 
intends to endure lesser, or what he considers un- 
necessary ones, with like dignity. As a matter of 
fact, a pain in the great toe, a crease in the draw- 
sheet, or, above all, that thing most dreaded by every 
Frenchman, a courant d*air from an open window, 
will produce loud lamentation, which will set the 
entire ward in an uproar. For these are the small 
ills that can be righted, and therefore must be — and 
instantaneously, if you please. 

An incident in point took place recently in the 
ward. The chief surgeon, when making his morning 
rounds, decided that a superficial incision of perhaps 
an inch should be made in a certain wound in order to 
permit the free passage of the Carrel-Dakin solution, 
the famous antiseptic irrigation which keeps down 
bacterial poisoning. It was not considered suffi- 
ciently important to remove the patient to the oper- 
ating room, or even to administer ether. Three or 
four snips by the ward doctor and the thing would 
be done. But Georges, the party of the first part in 
the operation, had decided he wanted an anaesthetic. 
He did not intend to be hurt. He had understood 
that in this grand hospital de luxe the Americans had 
the latest methods; that they did not chop a poor 
soldier up without first "putting him to sleep," Vain 
were my efforts to soothe him. 

The other men, delighted by this fantastic griev- 


ance — for most of them detest the anaesthetizing 
process — egged him on with a gayety that soon be- 
came riotous. They exchanged bets on the possible 
chances of recovery from such a grave operation. 
They promised to write to his mother and to his 
fiancee in the event of his death. One soldier, an 
erstwhile opera singer, consented to chant his mass. 
Another offered to confess him, and adjured him to 
make a clean breast of all his sins. At lunch, with 
their wine, they drank to him a solemn morituri te 

The day became a Fete of Death dedicated to 
Georges and his inch-long cut. And when at length 
the crucial hour arrived, and the doctor and nurse 
entered with a tray of glittering instruments, every 
man of them was up on his elbow in bed, and the 
opera singer began softly to chant the mass. But 
Georges was nowise abashed by all this jest and 
blague. As the doctor approached his bedside he 
began to writhe, and gasped : 

"Mon Dieu, how I suffer ! Oh ! Ah ! Doucetnent! 
—Gently !" 

*'Un!'' murmured the opera singer at his side. 

The nurse pulled down the covers and elicited an- 
other loud groan. 

"O/i, la, la! Doucement! Doucementr' 

*'Deuxl Trois!" counted his neighbor. 

The ward meantime was one gurgle of suppressed 
laughter. The nurse started to undo the bandage. 


"Doucementr* sang out Georges lustily. 


The doctor picked up an instrument from the tray 
and touched the wound-opening tentatively. 

"Oh, Nom de Dieu! Oh, docteur! Doucement! 
DoucementI Doucement!" 

"Cinq! Six! Sept!'' 

"What's biting you, old man?" laughed the doctor 
in English. "You know this doesn't hurt." 

"Doucement!'' roared Georges in reply. 


"I don't understand this," said the nurse, glancing 
at the chart. "He has no temperature." 

"Doucement! Doucement!" moaned Georges. 

"Neuf! Dix!" registered the opera singer. 

The doctor snipped off an infinitesimal flake of 
(dead cuticle. 

"Oh, hon Dieu! Doucement! Doucement! Douce- 
ment! Doucement! Oh, cher docteur! Doucement!" 

"Onze! Douze! Treize! Quatorze! Quinze!" 

By this time the men were in a broad ripple of 
laughter — all save Georges, who continued to howl 
with every move the doctor made. But finally the 
operation was over. Doctor and nurse disappeared. 

"How many?" I inquired. 

"Twenty-eight !" grinned the opera singer. 

Georges had screeched Doucement! eight-and- 
twenty times inside of five minutes, at a practically 
painless operation ! And now the opera singer began 


to mock him by singing Doucement! in every conceiv- 
able accent up and down the scale. 

"Son of generations of monkeys !" grunted Georges 
contemptuously. He turned to me: "A drop of 
cognac, mees ! Regard how my hand trembles." 

And he lifted that member and waggled it before 
my eyes without the faintest glimmer of a smile. 
Needless to say, he got his cognac; he had earned 
it. The men had expected amusement and Georges 
had done his best not to disappoint them. Such 
a mirth provoker in a ward is worth any amount of 
drugs. Moreover, it is only justice to Georges to 
add that, in a subsequent operation, he had his leg 
taken off above the knee with a coolness, a gay devil- 
may-caredom that touched even his pain-hardened 
comrades. Upon that occasion never a single Douce- 
ment fell from his lips. He was far more concerned 
over the noon meal he was forced to miss, and cursed 
like a pirate because he must lose both his lunch and 
his leg at the same fell clip ! 

But even Georges, with all his impudence and 
nerve, had his black moments, his fits of melancholy, 
of piercing nostalgia, of deadly ennui of the soul. 
Cafard the soldiers call these seasons of gloom. "Blue 
devils" is our equivalent term. While the Russian 
muzhik says simply : "My soul suffers !" 

The men dread this cafard more than an operation. 
To fight off its approach they reread old letters, 
finger over beloved relics in their small sacks of per- 


sonal belongings, smoke miles of cigarettes, read end- 
less romances, or write up their simple histories — 
poor, meager, ill-spelled and laboriously penciled nar- 
ratives of the individual roles they played in the 
present mighty conflict. 

But sooner or later the cafard, lying in wait, gets 
them. That Georges, however, witty, jeering, pun- 
gent as Javelle water, should fall a victim filled me 
with surprise. But one morning I came upon him 
with his head smothered under a pillow. And when 
I lifted it off, fancying him asleep, his young face 
startled me with its look of utter and naked misery, 
which he was too proud to show his little world. 

"Why, what is the matter?" I cried. 

He looked at me silently with brooding, gloom- 
filled eyes. 

"I have the cafard,^^ he said simply at last. 

Despite himself, his mouth quivered. Every one 
of those arid and sterile hours of his sickness had 
piled its heavy weight upon his soul. 

"Ah, when will it all be finished?" he breathed. 
"When shall I see my mother, my little sister, again ?" 

For this I had no reply. Georges' chances of re- 
covery at that time were about fifty-fifty. 

"Do you see that verse?" He pointed to the high 
clock tower of the hospital, which bore, in old French 
script, the following couplet: 

Every hour wounds; 
The last one hills. 


Georges repeated it slowly, with intense bitterness. 

"The other day I counted how many hours I had 
lain couched here. Three thousand three hundred 
and twenty hours !" He held up to the light a yellow, 
emaciated hand. "Pretty, isn't it? Every hour 
wounds, and the last one kills, eh? Well, I'll take my 
killing all at once, thanks. I'm tired, you know. I'll 
dispatch myself some day !" 

A tender word on my part at that instant and 
Georges would have wept outright — and never for- 
given me for disgracing him! I tried a joke — ^his 
own favorite weapon. 

"Well," I said, smiling, "if you want to die right 
away, this very minute, here's a method." 

And I picked up from his bedside table a broken 
and rusted knife. It was his trench knife, a battered 
old wreck of an affair, the big blade of which was 
still crusted with dried blood — Georges' own blood, 
spilt there when he got his wound, and carefully pre- 
served by him as a souvenir. As a lethal instrument 
that knife was a joke, and I trusted he would see the 
point. But I underestimated the depth of blackness 
in his soul. For a long moment he stared at me, 
silent. Then suddenly, with a swift and violent move- 
ment, he tore open his chemise at the throat. 

*^Voila! There you are!" he exclaimed. I laid the 
knife out of reach in a hurry. 

"Peu!'^ he said contemptuously, and turned his 
back on me. 


It later appeared that the cafard in this particular 
case had its origin in a girl. Following hard upon 
his operation, as soon as he could grasp a pen, 
Georges had written to his fiancee, telling her that he 
was now a cripple and releasing her from her engage- 
ment. And it seemed that the girl had taken him 
at his word. Not a single line had he received from 
her ! And added bitterness lay in the fact that, deep 
down in the unplumbed depths of him, Georges had a 
fine upstanding confidence in himself, and believed 
that, cripple or no cripple, he was a pretty fine match 
for any girl. 

As the days filed by without news he began to 
bleed inwardly. But one afternoon, shortly after- 
ward, as I passed down the ward I beheld by Georges' 
bedside her hand tightly locked in his, a small, pale- 
browed but radiant young person, in a heavy veil of 
black crepe. Georges, exultant and gay, beckoned 
me over. 

"C^est ma fianceeT' he introduced proudly. 

Upon receipt of his letter she had waited only to 
bury a relative, and then hastened up from 
their native village to give him her reply in per- 

In the hospital there were innumerable love affairs 
that came under my eye as the busy, monotonously 
diverse days flowed by; and the soldiers, one by one, 
made me their confidante while I wrapped their band- 
ages, made their beds, or scrubbed the ingrained 


mud of the Somme from their feet with liquid soap 
and a flesh brush. But there is one that lingers in 
my mind because it became a game, half playful, half 
serious, between me and the soldier lover. 

On visitors' day the spacious salle was always 
crowded by a throng of wives, mothers, sweethearts 
and friends. Before the big double doors were 
thrown open each soldier had his tiny pocket mirror 
out, combing his mustache and grooming himself for 
the occasion. Among these, I came to observe 
Coussin, a jeweler by trade, who, with his wife and 
small son of three, lived in Montmartre before the 

Coussin was a quiet young man with an under- 
standing eye and an unfailing sunny smile. I always 
hated to hurt him in dressing his wound, because it 
hurt him so to hurt me. As the hands of the clock 
approached two he would shift on his pillow so that 
his glance could reach the door without obstruction. 
He was one of those rare Frenchmen who do not 
smoke ; and he would lie thus, motionless, a little pale 
from emotion, his eyes glued to that distant door. 
They never left it save to consult his watch. And 
when finally, on the stroke of two, his wife, Fabienne, 
appeared, a pretty, dark young woman, trimly veiled, 
pushing her son ahead of her, Coussin would lift him- 
self abruptly out of bed — despite stern orders to the 
contrary, for there was still danger of hemorrhage — 
and wave his uninjured arm. 


And Fabienne would lift her wee son for a salute 
to Papa! After which she would start down the long, 
crowded aisle. Smiling, her eyes still clinging to 
those of Coussin, she moved sedately, controlling her 
eagerness ; but at the end she always ran. The kiss 
that followed was — well, indescribable. You will have 
to imagine it. And the look which they exchanged 
afterward was even more than a kiss, more passion- 
ate, tender, revealing. 

As the afternoon drew on to a close the bell rang, 
warning the visitors that it was time to begin to get 
ready to think of departure. It was at this juncture 
that the comedy with Coussin began. Earlier in the 
day he had secretly set his watch half an hour back. 
If he could have got hold of a stick long enough to 
reach from his bed I am convinced he would have un- 
blushingly turned back the hands of the ward clock 
to match, without a single compunction. As it was, 
he and Fabienne blandly ignored the first bell, as none 
of their private concerns. But when it rang again, 
and the orderlies began shooing the dilatory ones out 
into the corridor, Coussin would glance guilelessly 
at his watch, start, compare it hastily with the ward 
clock, and then exclaim with an air of surprise, min- 
gled with indignation: 

"Again too fast ! But it is no good — that big old 
clock. This admirable little watch of mine has not 
been out a minute in five years !" 

And Fabienne would regard lovingly the admirable 


little watch of her admirable little husband. In the 
end, of course, he won his extra half hour, and after 
the departure of his wife his timepiece and that of 
the ward would somehow mysteriously synchronize. 
But this was not quite all of the comedy. When 
the visitors had gone basins were passed round and 
the men bathed themselves before supper. But on the 
day of his wife's visit Coussin always refused to 

"I don't wish to!" he would say with gentle ob- 

"But you must. It's the rule. It's good for you." 

"Not to-night. To-morrow." 

"But to-night it's very necessary. Many visitors 
— many microbes." 

"I don't wish to — to-night." He would shake his 
head with smiling decision. 

"But why don't you want to wash to-night?" I 
asked him on the first occasion. 

He gave me a single full look, and the truth 
dawned upon me : He did not wish to wash away the 
kisses of his wife and little son ! 

"To-morrow night I will wash twice!" he added 
magnanimously ; and upon that we compromised. 

There are certain French words — one can hardly 
call them slang — which have come into popular usage 
since the war, and which one hears constantly on the 
lips of the soldier. One of these is pinard, the trench 
word for wine, corresponding loosely to our term 


"booze." Another is copain. A copain is a pal, a 
chum, a trench comrade; one with whom a soldier 
shares his bed and his blanket and whiles away the 
long dull hours of inactivity. Not to have such a 
friend at the Front — or la-has — Out There — as the 
soldiers call it — is a severe deprivation ; for it means 
spiritual isolation; one puny soul bearing alone the 
terrific impact of the war. To illustrate this tender 
feeling toward a copain: 

One day I was given the task of taking down the 
histories of the men in my ward; and I discovered, 
somewhat to my surprise, that a postman, a quiet, 
drab, nondescript little man with a bald spot, had 
won both the Croix de Guerre and the Medaille Mili- 
taire. To me, his tale was astounding in its valor, 
for this timid, oldish little person seemed the sort to 
flee for his life, like a frightened rabbit, at the first 
big thunder of the guns. 

It appeared that one night he had volunteered to 
go out upon the battlefield, still under French and 
German fire, to rescue a fallen soldier. While car- 
rying his charge a shell exploded near at hand, in- 
juring both his legs and wounding his companion 
afresh. At this point he might have saved himself 
by deserting his comrade. Instead of which, he re- 
mained all night beside him ; made his dressings ; fed 
him the dew that collected on the adjacent leaves, 
drop by drop; remained beside him throughout the 
following day, under constant bombardment ; and at 


nightfall got him, like a sack of meal, up on his shoul- 
ders, and, crawling on his hands and knees, dragging 
his injured legs — "Grace a Dieu it was not my arms," 
he said, "or I never could have made it !" — ^he event- 
ually reached a dressing station, five kilometers away. 
But he had paid the toll of that long wait upon the 
infected field of glory. Gangrene set in and it was 
found necessary to amputate both feet. Never again 
could he be a postman. 

"That was very splendid of you !" I said at the end 
of his recital. 

"But no ! But no !" he denied swiftly. "You see, 
'twas my copainT^ 

There is still another word the war has brought 
into being ; an epithet that, falling in anger from the 
lips of a soldier, is the supreme and ultimate insult. 
It is the word that has been coined to cover the case 
of the man who evades military service. Embusque 
is the French term. Literally it means one who hides 
in ambush. But practically it has come to embrace 
all who, through graft or influence, hide in easy ad- 
ministrative jobs, soft snaps, sinecures, saving their 
pusillanimous skins instead of taking their chances 
with their fellows in the trenches. The contempt 
for this particular brand of coward is great, and 
insults are extremely likely to be the portion of any 
civilian who walks the streets of Paris these days in 

An American ambulance driver on the field service 


at Verdun told me that, on a recent permission in 
Paris, he had taken all his uniforms to the tailor to 
be cleaned. 

"It seemed bully," he said, "to have a real Ameri- 
can all-over bath and get into real American clothes 
again — that is, it semed bully until I ventured out 
upon the boulevards en civile. But presently I began 
to hear 'Emhusque!^ ^Emhusquel' all round me in the 
air. Sometimes it was hurled in my face in passing ; 
sometimes it was hissed close to my ear. And finally 
there approached four poilus abreast, mutile every 
one, taking the entire width of the pavement, stump- 
ing along on their wooden pegs, gay as larks, and 
chattering seventeen to the dozen. Convalescents, I 
figured them, out on their promenade. When they 
came alongside, naturally I gave them the road. But 
they halted, confronted me contemptuously, and 
cried: ^Embusque! Embusque vousT Well, it was 
too much for me. I beat it back to the tailor and 
got into respectable clothes." 

Like many opprobrious epithets, however, embus- 
que, among friends, has a different slant; used thus, 
it becomes a term of endearment, a sort of rough ca- 
ress. A soldier, fresh Out There, muddy-booted, un- 
shaved, bristling with the accouterments of war, will 
clump awkwardly into the hospital, bend over his 
wounded comrade, salute him on both cheeks, and ex- 
claim jovially: "Well, old embusque, how goes it?" 
And on the morning following my weekly afternoon 


off the men never failed to greet me : "Aha, Mees Em- 
husque! You deserted us yesterday. Embusque 

Used so, it was a term of affection. Nevertheless, 
it is a word to be handled with discretion. Returning 
from the hospital late one night to my quiet hotel, I 
found the place in a tumult. The police had invaded 
the kitchen; and the Dutch chef, a stout, pompous 
white-capped tyrant, before whom the entire estab- 
lishment walked in terror, lay on the floor with his 
head smashed in, weltering in his own gore. Over 
him stood the head waiter, a tiny sprite of a French- 
man, hands clenched, eyes blazing, and looking ready 
to jump on the chef's fat stomach if that prostrate 
gentleman so much as batted an eyelid. 

"What's the matter ?" I inquired. 

"He — he called me embusque! Me !" exploded the 
head waiter, stammering in his rage. "I knocked the 
fat swine down and his head hit the stove." 

The police, upon hearing the provocation, vindi- 
cated the servant completely, and the Dutchman 
went to the hospital to mend his head and his man- 
ners. It was another version of Owen Wister's fam- 
ous Western tale : "When you call me that — smile !" 

At the end of three months I was transferred to 
another ward with only twelve beds — a small, tran- 
quil family, it seemed to me, after the continual rush 
and hurry of the big receiving ward. But still there 
was plenty to do. No time to sit like a lady, with 


folded lilylike hands. And the first three days, in 
addition to the regular routine, I had a dying man 
in charge. For three days and three nights he lay 
dying from general gas infection, a poor wreck, too 
ghastly to look upon with composure. His face, 
under the process of decay, had turned a horrible 
greenish yellow ; beneath one eye yawned a deep un- 
healed bayonet gash ; his mouth was filled with pois- 
onous ulcers ; and his tongue was so swollen that he 
could scarce articulate. 

One leg had been amputated at the thigH in a vain 
effort to arrest the gangrene ; but the infection had 
immediatel}^ showed in the other leg. The stench 
of this moribund organism was such that, with every 
window flung wide open, the odor was still almost 
overpowering. And the danger of infection was no 
imaginary fear. A nurse, with her hands tender from 
being constantly in water, is always crocking off bits 
of superficial skin. 

Conceive the daily dressing and bandaging of this 
poor wretch; the daily changing of linen, soaked 
through and through with deadly suppurations, 
down to the very mattress ! In touching him the 
doctor, the nurse and the orderlies wore gloves; so, 
also, did I whenever that was possible. But at this 
time there was a temporary shortage of nurses and I 
had the ward to myself, save when the head nurse 
looked in for a minute to ask if all went well. And 
perhaps I would be busy when the cry would come: 


"Mees ! Mees ! Number Two ! A drink ! Quick !" 

Upon which I would drop everything in a panic 
and fly to his bedside, barely in time to prevent him 
from swallowing the contents of the spittoon ; for he 
had long, lean, powerful arms, this Number Two, 
which were always wandering, always in motion. 
With these he would pull into his bed whatever of the 
adjacent landscape he could lay hands on; for this 
reason we were forced to discard the bedside screens 
that usually inclose the dying. Once this blind, wan- 
dering hand discovered a thermometer on the bed- 
side table of a neighbor. Instantly it was in his 
mouth and was broken in two between his teeth. 
Nothing for it but to thrust in my bare hand and pull 
the pieces out. No time for rubber gloves ! He might 
die of gas gangrene ; but I was not going to have him 
die of a thermometer. 

Happily he did not suffer and at times he was con- 
scious. Once, as I held up his head — this time with 
gloves — to give him water, he looked into my eyes 
and said, quite matter-of-f actly : 

"C*est la ftuy n*est-ce'pas?'' — It's the end, isn't 

As he lingered and still lingered on, there came a 
subtle change over the attitude of the ward with 
regard to this long-spun-out dying. At first, when, 
after what seemed to them a proper and suitable 
length of time. Number Two still stubbornly held on, 
complaints began to be heard. No Frenchman loves 


an open window. Were they all to die of colds in the 
head because of one inconsiderate fellow? Frankly, 
they had had enough of him. It was not courteous 
to linger thus ! 

''Bon Dieu, not yet? Will he go to-night, think 
you ?" they would impatiently inquire. 

But as the feeble flame still burned mysteriously 
on, unquenched, this feeling gradually altered; it 
merged into a wondering awe and respect. The gal- 
lant fight of Number Two, his gaspings, his wrest- 
lings with the invisible foe, commanded their admi- 

"How strong he is !" they would murmur respect- 
fully, "What force!" 

" 'Tis the force of youth," commented another. 

" 'Tis sad to die like that, so young, so brave — 
n^est-ce-pas, mees?" 

And when the final spells of periodic shuddering 
began, showing the last phase was at hand, they 
watched him with undisguised interest. 

"He's passing!" announced one. 

"Not yet," retorted another, almost with pride. 
"See him drink! Pauvre brave! 'Tis a good war- 

"He'll go to-night— that's sure!'* 

They began to argue about it. 

But he did not go that night, nor yet the next 
morning; and the afternoon found him still battling 
feebly for breath. Late in the afternoon of the 


third day his wife arrived, a shabby, terrified little 
peasant woman, infinitely pathetic in her rusty black 
crepe and her gnarled toil-worn hands. Accompany- 
ing her was the soldier's father, a gaunt Breton, in 
smock and wooden shoes, with a small, round berib- 
boned hat like that of a priest, and beneath it deep- 
set, intelligent eyes. 

Upon me devolved the unpleasant task of breaking 
the news. I led them out into the corridor and, for 
a space, I could find no words. What is the polite 
formula in such a case, anyhow? Perhaps the wife 
read the trouble in my face, for her eyes upon me 
were like those of a dog, piteous, begging not to be 
beaten. She grasped me by both elbows. 

"How goes it?" she breathed. "He is better? 
Say that my husband is better !" 
The situation was intolerable. 
"He is dying," I blurted out brutally. 
With a loud cry she flung herself into my arms. 
The father gazed stonily out the window. Soon, how- 
ever, she had composed herself, and I asked whether 
they wished a priest. Was her husband a Catholic? 
Briefly they conferred apart, and then the woman 
turned, with a timid query. Would it cost anything? 
And with that the whole bleak truth came out. They 
were poor, very poor, it appeared; so poor, indeed, 
that they had sold their cow to enable them to come 
to Paris. 

They had counted the expenses down to the last 


sou; but they had not counted the expense of a 

I assured them we had an abbe in the hospital and 
that his services were free. Upon which they decided 
to have him. An hour later he celebrated Holy Com- 
munion, the soldiers looking on with simple, un- 
affected interest. Only one blemish marred the se- 
renity of the sacred event: At the crucial moment 
Number Two absolutely refused to receive the Host. 
Twice the murmuring abbe bent over him and inserted 
the holy wafer, and twice it was rejected by the swol- 
len lips. 

"Let's try it with water," I suggested. 

The dying man drank thirstily as ever, but again 
refused the symbol. I was nonplused, for plainly 
those black eyes staring up into mine were conscious. 
After the departure of the abbe a soldier beckoned 
me to his side.^ 

"He's not a Catholic," he explained softly. 

As daylight waned there came a brief respite in the 
struggle ; Number Two breathed more easily ; he lay 
quiet, relaxed; his invisible antagonist seemed to 
have removed a short way off. The men meantime 
chatted cheerfully. Some sang. 

Presently a knock sounded at the door. It was 
the X-ray man from upstairs, who had come to take 
a photograph of a certain plaster cast, an extraor- 
dinarily fine specimen, made at the Front. 

"Who's the new hlesse with the leg cast?" he called 


out jovially. He consulted a card. "Peletier's the 

"Present !" came a voice from the corner. 

"But jou can't take a picture now !" I protested, 
scandalized. "A man^s dying in here. Wait until 
he's dead." 

"Can't! The cast comes off to-morrow morning. 
Got to take the picture right away. Here's the 

Perforce I let him come in. And now a lively bustle 
ensued. The bed containing the soldier adorned 
with the desired cast was wheeled into the center of 
the room, the leg exposed to the best advantage, ban- 
dages unwrapped, the bedcovers composed neatly,' 
the tripod set up, the lights arranged. 

Then the photographer's head disappeared be- 
neath the black camera cloth. It would be vain to 
deny that the men enjoyed it hugely. They watched 
with eagerness as the photographer's head emerged 
from the dark folds. He altered slightly the position 
of the cast, looked again, and made a second change. 
"Good !" he exclaimed at length briskly ; and he held 
up a warning hand. "Now! Ready, old manf Tell 
your leg to smile ! Tell it to regard the little bird." 
At this threadbare joke a veritable shout of laugh- 
ter went up from the ward. Even the dying man 
smiled ! 

''Regardez! He smiles !" cries a soldier, pointing. 
*^Bon gargon!" 


The mirth renewed itself. It was the strangest 
death scene I had ever viewed. 

Number Two lingered through the night and 
slipped away the next morning so quietly that none 
of us knew the exact moment ; and his strength and 
his smile at the photographer's jest became a legend 
in the ward. 

There is much talk nowadays of the great number 
of desertions, and one's fancy is fed by all kinds of 
wild and fantastic tales. Most of them are pure in- 
ventions, or have grown, like snowballs rolling down 
hill, from the merest innocent fact. The French are 
not deserters by temperament. One does not hear 
of whole companies of Frenchmen, bereft of their 
officers, falling on their knees, lifting up their hands, 
and crying: "Kamerad! Spare me; for I am a 
father !" Simply, that is not the French note. To 
drag in his papahood at such a moment would ap- 
pear to a Frenchman as grotesquely humorous and 

And yet it would be idle to assert that there have 
been no French desertions. But most of them are 
pathological cases. The human brain can experience 
just so much bloodshed, so much killing, without 
going a little mad. And the more sensitive, finely 
tempered and humanitarian the person, the heavier 
the spiritual strain. 

The following story is a case in point. It was told 
me by the would-be deserter himself, a young play- 


Wright of twenty-four, called, let us say, Vernier, 
who had been invalided back to Paris. He related 
it with a certain mordant humor, as being something 
of a joke on himself. The background of the story, 
his repeated wounds and illnesses, his hatred of kill- 
ing, which grew with the months into a morbid soul 
sickness, were supplied by his mother and a friend: 

Vernier, nervous, high-strung, idealistic, had been 
in the war since the days of mobilization. Repeatedly 
wounded, but never gravely, constantly ill from ex- 
posure, he gravitated back and forth between the 
trenches and the hospitals, not remaining very long 
at a time in either. He took part in a number of 
attacks and killed a number of Germans. He didn't 
like it. About Christmas he wrote to his mother: 
"To be a really successful trench warrior one should 
be made of pig iron clean through : no head, no heart, 
no nerves !" And he added : "Frankly I am sick, sick, 
sick to death of it all." 

Shortly after this he was wounded again and went 
to the hospital; a month later he was back in the 
lines. Threatened with a relapse, he was sent to a 
shelter behind the trenches. And here the break- 
down came. Fortunately his mother was with him. 
To her Vernier declared he had killed his last man in 
battle. He swore a solemn oath never to take another 
human life. He was through ! He was going to clear 
out, escape to Canada, become a farmer and start 
life anew. 


He spoke wildly, passionately, in tones that car- 
ried far beyond the small room. His mother listened, 
gray with terror. She implored him not to be fool- 
ish, to hush, to speak lower; to consider himself, his 
mother, France. Vernier, however, remained firm. 
"But they'll shoot you, my son, as a deserter !" 
And to this Vernier vehemently replied : 
"Mother, can't you conceive that it's more honor- 
able to stand up against a wall and die publicly for 
your faith than to die like a dog in a hole in the 
ground for something you don't believe? No; I've 
killed my last man, I tell you ! If they want to kill 
me for that let them kill." 

Frenzied, the mother flung herself upon him, try- 
ing to stifle with her hand that dangerous young 
mouth ; but the damage was already done. His loud 
speech had been overheard. Within the hour he was 
summoned before the commandant and asked whether 
the charge were true. Far from denying. Vernier ad- 
mitted everything up to the hilt ; he even went far- 
ther and embroidered his point of view. The com- 
mandant listened attentively; and at the end he 

"He told me," related Vernier in excellent English, 
"that in ordinary circumstances I should be shot the 
next morning as a deserter — and thus achieve what 
was so evidently my desire. But there was somebody 
else to be considered — namely, my mother. For, in 
overhearing me, they had overheard her entreaties 


as well. The son of such a mother must be worth 
saving; and, therefore, he was returning my life, 
plainly forfeit, to this brave mother of France. But 
he named a condition. And after that," continued 
Vernier with a reminiscent grin, "he simply cut loose 
and lit into me. Asked ironically whether I supposed 
I was the only man in France who was opposed to the 
shedding of blood! I was a socialist, eh? Well, he 
was a philosophic anarchist ! Went me one stronger, 
you see." 

And this was the commandant's condition: He 
asked Vernier to remember that this bloody war was 
a trial, not to him alone but to all Frenchmen with 
a spiritual nature ; and, as they were strong for the 
common good, he asked Vernier to be strong also — 
and hold his tongue. Simply that — to be strong and 
hold his tongue ! And to this Vernier consented. He 
had to, he said, after the commandant's courtesy to 
his mother. And, also, he was not going to be out- 
done in delicacy. When last heard of. Vernier was 
still holding his tongue Out There. 

There was one question the soldiers asked con- 
stantly. They began the first day I entered the hos- 
pital ; and I had no reply. On the last day they were 
still asking it ; and still I had no reply. That ques- 
tion was : When will the United States enter the war.? 

Observe the form of that question. They did not 
say If, but When? For to most of them it seemed 
inevitable that, sooner or later, we, the big sister re- 


public, with kindred form of government and ideals, 
should come to see what France, with her fine lucidity, 
had seen for so long: that she is battling not alone 
for her own right to exist as a free, unenslaved na- 
tion — though assuredly she is doing that — but for 
America also, and for the doctrine of democracy, as 
opposed to the doctrines of force and the gauntleted 
fist, all over the world. 

But also, quite aside from this, the French soldiers 
want us to come in because they like us personally. 
They like us and they want us to fight upon their 

Not long ago Georges expressed these sentiments 
in a nutshell. He had been lying staring up at the 
Stars and Stripes, which, with the Tricolor, was 
tacked above the ward door. 

"It's pretty," he remarked pensively, "that starry 
flag. It's not bad at all, truly! And it goes well 
with ours. It would be pleasant to see them both 
flying at large over Verdun — n^est-ce-pas, mees?" 

As I write this, that wish of a wounded French sol- 
dier boy has come true. 


"Watch that man!" said the nurse to her volun- 
teer aid, nodding toward a bed that had been tilted 
at an angle by means of wooden blocks inserted under 
the legs, so that its occupant, a wounded Frenchman, 
lay downhill, his feet higher than his head. He looked 
as if he were past the need of watching and were 
dead already, that rigid, immobile, white-draped fig- 
ure. His face was a livid mask, with heavy shadows 
beneath the closed lids, pinched nostrils, deep carved 
lines of pain round the bluish mouth, and a black 
unkempt bristle of beard that showed up startlingly 
against the white of the pillows. Not a movement, 
not a stir or visible breath or touch of warm living 
color. He was a fresh arrival, thirty-six hours from 
Verdun, and in the morning — if he lasted that long ! 
— he was going up for operation. Both of his legs 
were broken above the knees. 

"Watch that man !" warned the nurse again from 
the door. "I'm going off duty for two hours. Lord, 
I'm tired!" 

"Oh, I'll watch him all right," promised the young 



aid confidently. "That's what I'm here for," sHe 
added with dreamy sweetness. 

The nurse walked over to the bed, bent down and 
took the soldier's pulse. 

"He seems all right," she murmured dubiously. 
"Pretty weak. Well, keep an eye on him." She 
sighed a sigh of pure fatigue and departed. 

Left to herself, the auxiliary fussed about the ward 
for a few minutes, after which she, too, crossed to 
the bedside of the man on whom she had been com- 
manded to keep an eye. For a space she stood star- 
ing down watchfully upon him. That was what she 
had been told to do, and she did it conscientiously. 

Then, her duty performed, she returned to her seat 
at the table and commenced a letter to a girl friend. 
And while she is thus engaged, and the stage is set 
for action — and probably tragic action — let me give 
a brief thumbnail sketch of her. 

It was a big war hospital in France, and the vol- 
unteer aid was a girl from the Middle West who, in 
a fine white flame of enthusiasm for the Allied cause, 
had come all the way from her native town as fast as 
train and ship could bear her in order to nurse the 
fine, brave, glorious and magnificent French soldiers. 
For it was with such glov/ing adjectives that she 
described them, and she could not even think of them 
without springing tears. The dear, rugged, war-torn 
heroes, flat upon beds of pain, with romantic white 
bandages bound about their brows, gazing up at her 


with unutterable gratitude in their dying eyes. For 
it was thus, movie-wise, she pictured them; and she 
pictured herself as a nurse, a sort of ministering- 
angel-of-mercy ingenue cast, divinely compassionate, 
dressed for the part in pure spotless white garments, 
on her head that very becoming French coif — it had 
looked so attractive in the pictures ; she really must 
have one of them — bending over a dying poilu, sooth- 
ing his fevered brow with cool white fingers, murmur- 
ing gentle words of hope, promising to write to his 
mother, and finally kissing him good-by into Heaven. 
She had read of nurses doing that, of soldiers whis- 
pering faintly, "Kiss me good-by for my mother!" 
And she knew — she had a sure instinct — that she 
would be good in that part. For, as she told her girl 
friend, she had so much sympathy and tenderness in 
her nature ! 

So great had been her zeal to help along the above 
lines that she had not tarried to take any tiresome, 
humdrum courses in nursing. For the war might be 
over any time, she argued, and she couldn't bear to 
lose a single precious instant. And so she had come 
right on. She had come right on, and with fool's 
luck she had arrived in Paris at an opportune mo- 
ment — for her. A mighty drive was on on the West- 
ern Front, and the backwash of French wounded was 
pouring in — a vast, unending, sanguinary tide. It 
was the tail end of summer, a terrific, heart-breaking 
summer, on top of a terrific heart-breaking spring, 


and no let-up in sight. Doctors and nurses and aids 
were exhausted, pegged out, at the end of their 
tethers. Some of the workers had collapsed under 
the abnormal tension, and the rest toiled on, showing 
their fatigue by curt crisp orders, by quick bursts of 
irritation or sudden explosions of savage temper. It 
was into this dynamic atmosphere that romantic little 
Miss Greenhorn walked one day, utterly incompetent 
technically and spiritually, but self-confident, un- 
abashed, full of her dream of those fine, splendid 
French soldiers — poor, wounded darlings! — and 
strong in the belief of her own divine function to 
succor and save — in that very attractive coif: And 
they gave her a place. Such was the stern necessity 
of the hour. Here was another pair of hands, an- 
other pair of feet ; certainly they could scrub tables, 
carry slops, run errands, and thus divert fatigue from 
the more important trained members of the corps. 
And so Miss Greenhorn donned her coif — her 
premonition concerning it was right; it was, in- 
deed, very fetching — and prepared blithely to ma- 
terialize her Florence-Nightingale-Mary-Pickford 

They assigned her to a small ward of ten. The 
orderly had not arrived, which is a salient character- 
istic of orderlies, and the nurse bade her take a pail 
of slops to the lavabo. It was a heavy pail, too 
heavy for her slight shoulders. After that she car- 
ried piles of blood-stained linen to the same destina- 


tion, and following hard upon that several morning 
bedpans. It was not distinguished work, and dainty 
little Miss Greenhorn performed these lowly duties 
with a disdainful nose in air. 'Twas not for this she 
had traveled all the way to France ! The ward doc- 
tor, noting the contemptuous, gingerly fashion in 
which she held her burdens at arm's length from her 
immaculate linen costume, murmured ironically to 
the nurse: 

"We've got a queen in disguise among us. Look 

Presently she was set to make a bed. Now in the 
course of all her fair young life Miss Greenhorn had 
not made half a dozen beds, and, moreover, she did 
not deem it a matter of grave importance. Still she 
was willing to oblige. 

"Poor man !" she breathed, hanging above him ten- 
derly. "How grateful he must feel toward me!" 
And, smiling her Florence-Nightingale-Mary-Pick- 
ford smile, she began pulling away a sheet at ran- 
dom. The soldier let out a yell of fury : 

"Imbecile! Are you trying to kill me.? OH, mon 
Dieu! Get out!" 

The nurse dropped her work and came running. 
It appeared that, instead of the bed sheet proper, 
the novice had got hold of another which, quadruple- 
folded, formed part of the padding of a wooden frac- 
ture-box that held the soldier's broken leg; and with 
the first tug she had all but capsized the entire ap- 


paratus and spilled fracture-box, leg and soldier out 
upon the floor. 

Miss Greenhorn bacl^ed off from the scene, deeply 
mortified. Her sensitive feelings were hurt. The 
man had called her an imbecile ! The very first words 
a French soldier had addressed to her — to her who 
had traveled five thousand miles to nurse him — had 
been not "You are heavenly kind, miss !" or "Kiss me, 
for I am dying !" but a brutal "Imbecile ! Get out !" 
It was a rude jolt to her rosy dream. In addition, 
the nurse reprimanded her sharply, and for the next 
two back-breaking hours she made beds under a 
dragon eye of supervision, made and remade them. 

Everything she did was wrong, clumsy, maladroit, 
and had to be altered twice, thrice, while the men 
turned pale under the prolonged strain and sweated 
or muttered nervously "Let be, mees ! Enough ! Oh, 
good God !" After her first mishap they were deadly 
afraid of her. And so sensitive spots went unbathed, 
uneased ; temperatures shot up, and infected wounds 
began to throb, while little Miss Greenhorn took her 
first lesson in nursing. It was hard upon her, for 
everyone within the circle of her inexpert activities 
became irritated and vented their irritation freely; 
but it was even harder on her victims, the soldiers of 
France she had come so far to serve. 

After two hours of constant stooping, kneeling and 
lifting heavy and helpless men, little red lightnings 
of pain began to play up and down her spine, her 


shoulder muscles ached cruelly, and there was a dull 
roaring in her ears. Her feet, too, already swollen 
in their fashionable white buckskin pumps, began to 
hurt atrociously and to show a congested purple be- 
neath the transparent white-silken hose. Above all 
things on earth, she desired to sit down five minutes 
and rest. Instead of this the nurse bade her disinfect 
a bed. Another unwieldy mattress to tug and haul 
about ! 

"Do I have to put this strong stuff into the 
water ?" she demanded plaintively, holding up the dis- 
infecting fluid. "It'll spoil my hands !" 

She was proud of those hands. They were delicate 
and cool and white. And, besides, they were part of 
the stage property of her movie dream. 

"If you intend to disinfect the bed, do so," re- 
turned the nurse dryly. "The case in that bed died 
of gas gangrene, and I shouldn't care to expose an- 
other patient to the microbes, even at the risk of 
spoiling your hands." 

"May I have a pair of rubber gloves then.^" 

"We're short of rubber gloves just now. What 
we have are needed in the operating room." 

Miss Greenhorn bent to her task in silence. Her 
cheeks were burning and her eyes were blurred with 
tears of rage and fatigue. As she stooped, dabbing 
futilely here and there with her cloth, the blunt voice 
of the nurse came to her: 

"Don't shirk your work that way. That isn't half 


disinfected. Here, give me the rag." And, squat- 
ting comfortably, she proceeded to give a thorough 
demonstration. "Don't be afraid to use a little elbow 
grease," she concluded ironically. 

Miss Greenhorn bit back an angry retort. She 
had not come over to France to do low, menial, 
scrubby, grubby work and then be treated like a ser- 
vant. At home she gave orders instead of receiving 
them. But aloud she only said "Thank you !" so low 
that the nurse glanced at her keenly and added: 
"Never mind. You'll learn some day. Now suppose 
you wash all the bedside tables. Remove everything 
from them first. And after that, if there's time, 
scrub the big table. Then the men's dejeuner will 
be coming along. Have you got the hot drinks from 
the diet kitchen.'* Ah, but I told you to do that al- 
ways before eleven o'clock! The kitchen's closed 
now and the poor chaps have lost their nourishment 
for the morning. Try not to fail on that again. 
Oh, before you begin on the tables, please make me 
a hot compress for Number Two. You don't know 
how-f* Very well!" And with a smothered exclama- 
tion of impatience she hurried off to make it herself. 

Somewhat subdued. Miss Greenhorn began on her 
tables. A few minutes later a peculiar sound from 
the adjacent bed caused her to look up and then cry 
hastily : 

"Oh, nurse! That poor man — Number Six — he's 


But the nurse, with the hot compress and a pa- 
tient's broken arm in her hands, could not disengage 
herself instantly. Moreover, her patience for the 
moment had gone into complete eclipse. 

"When a man vomits, don't call me!" sKe barked 
savagely. "Hold something!" 

But unfortunately little Miss Greenhorn could find 
nothing to hold. Terribly disconcerted, she flew 
round wildly in a circle, like a kitten chasing its tail, 
seeking a suitable vessel. But nothing seemed to pre- 
sent itself to her distracted gaze. The pail? Ob- 
viously too large! The bedside wine cup? Ob- 
viously too small ! Oh, where But by this time 

the nurse had caught up a basin and was supporting 
the sick man's head. 

"He's gone through everything," she said wearily. 
"We'll have to change the entire bed. Fetch some 
linen. And next time use a little horse sense, if you've 
such a thing concealed about your person." 

During the change the patient groaned horribly. 
The sweat of exhaustion poured from his face. His 
flesh was clammy. 

"Get some hot-water bottles," the nurse ordered 
tersely. "No, never mind, I'll do it. You'd prob- 
ably scald him !" 

Miss Greenhorn returned to her tables, the corners 
of her mouth dipping like those of a baby whose hands 
have been slapped. And during the rest of the morn- 
ing Number Six's white face reproached her mutely. 


In the afternoon she left another wide swath of 
errors behind her. The men thanked her politely, 
but declined her kind offers to shake up their pil- 
lows. When she took the temperatures she broke 
three thermometers hand-running, and French ther- 
mometers were rare commodities. 

"I think they must have been cracked," she apolo- 
gized. "They snapped so easily." 

Later, marking up the temperature charts, she 
made atrocious blunders. Normal patients suddenly 
exhibited fever peaks high as the Himalayas. The 
astounded ward doctor, discovering such a one and 
its source, swore fervently and voted her a pest, with 
a double-barreled profane adjective attached. That 
night her feet ached so that she cried when she re- 
moved her shoes. And for that night and many 
nights thereafter she had her dinner in bed and fell 
to sleep immediately from sheer exhaustion. 

And now, the resume complete, let us skip a week 
and return to Miss Greenhorn as she sat writing a 
letter to her friend. Every few minutes, true to her 
orders, she had risen for a look at the patient she 
had been set to watch. She watched him dutifully, 
ignorantly. She was still Miss Greenhorn, with one 
short week of experience. Not once did it occur to 
her to query: What am I to watch this man for? 
What is likely to happen? What shall I do if it 
does ? And yet she was not a particularly stupid girl. 
She was rather above the average in intelligence and 


eagerness ; but so firmly had she riveted her gaze upon 
the romantic, the false, the pseudo-aesthetic aspects 
of her job, that she was temporarily blinded to its 
actual features. But that the unriveting process had 
already begun and was somewhat painful was evi- 
denced by her letter to her friend. And as the man 
she was set to watch seems quiet, ominously quiet, let 
us peep a moment over her shoulder : 

"Dearest Amelia: This is the very first time I 
have had a chance to sit down since I entered the 
hospital a week ago to-day. And oh, Amelia, before 
I say another word, I want to tell you: Don't come 
over ! Don't, Amelia, don't ! With your delicate 
health you never would be able to stand it. The 
work is simply terrible — ^hard, brutal, back-breaking, 
menial. You should see my poor hands! And my 
feet! And never a single word of thanks from any- 
body. They just seem to take you and your sacrifices 
for granted, and they expect you to know how to 
do things letter-perfect, right off the reel. Of course 
I don't know anything. 

"The other day a soldier called me an imbecile, and 
that's exactly what I am, Amelia, a proud, presump- 
tuous, ignorant little fool ! But I never dreamed how 
dangerous it is to be so ignorant. The nurse gives 
you some mean, insignificant little job that does not 
seem to amount to a hill of beans, and in the end it 
turns out to be something horribly important, 


fraught with terrible consequences. For example: 
The other day a man had a relapse and all but died 
simply because I couldn't find something quickly for 
him to vomit into. The first consequence was that 
we had to change his bed. The second consequence 
was that the extra effort fatigued him so he couldn't 
eat any lunch. The third consequence was that, 
having eaten nothing, in the afternoon he had a 
relapse. For a while I thought he was going to die. 
Those were dark hours for me, Amelia ! That night 
I offered to sit up with him — to make it up, you see. 
But the ward doctor said, *No, let's give the poor 
devil a fighting chance !' That was horrid, wasn't it ? 
He's atrocious, that young ward doctor, and he never 
loses a chance to intimate what he thinks of my pre- 
sumption in offering my untrained services. He 
says my nerve, if he could get an X-ray of it, would 
make the celebrated Colossus of Rhodes look like a 
pygmy. He asked me seriously if I wasn't ashamed 
when I woke up in the middle of the night 'to be so 
dumb — not damn, but dumb — ignorant !' And I am, 
Amelia. But I really think I'm beginning slowly 
to learn. There's a sick soldier they've set me to 
watch right now. So horribly pale! So still! 

One " 

At this point Miss Greenhorn's pen trailed off and 
she sat bolt upright, staring before her into space. A 
sudden thought had smitten her, almost with the 
force of a blow. Why was he so pale ? Why was he 


still? Why, in short, had she been set to watch him? 
She rose rather hurriedly and went to his bedside. 
She would ask him what was the matter. Really it 
was an inspiration! 

"How are you ?" she questioned gently. 

^^J^ai froidy" came the faint murmur from rigid 

"Ah ! Cold, are you ? Then I'll get you some hot- 
water bottles and they'll make you warm. Nice and 
warm !" And Miss Greenhorn sped away on her mis- 
sion, delighted to be of service. ^^VoilaT* she cooed 
soothingly a few minutes later, slipping the heated 
bags into the foot of the bed. "Now you'll soon be 
warm ! Nice and warm and cozy !" And she leaned 
above him solicitously, still vaguely troubled. Cer- 
tainly he was ghastly pale ! 

It was at this juncture that the ward doctor, a 
busy, brusque, discerning young gentleman, blew into 
the room with a — 

"Hullo, Miss How's that fellow " A 

single glance at the fellow in question stopped the 
words as if a sudden hand had been clapped over his 
mouth. He sprang forward and threw down the 
covers. The soldier lay in a pool of blood. "My 
God! Hemorrhaging! Why didn't you call me?" 

He wheeled on her savagely. But Miss Greenhorn's 
face had blanched almost as white as the counter- 
pane. Her hand went up to her trembling lips. 

"I — I — I didn't know !" she whispered. "He com- 


plained of feeling cold, and so I— I gave him hot- 
water bottles." 

"Yah ! In case of hemorrhage, when a man's bleed- 
ing to death, for first-aid apply hot-water bottles! 
Fine! Where's that tourniquet? I tied it onto the 
foot of the bed myself." 

"The — what?" stammered Miss Greenhorn, im- 
measurably terrified. She quailed before the look in 
his eye. 

"Tourniquet ! That piece of rubber tubing." 

"0-o-oh! That terra-cotta rubber thing, you 
mean! It made the bed look untidy and so I undid 
it. Let me see. Where " 

But the door had already slammed upon the doc- 
tor, who returned immediately with a tourniquet from 
the adjacent ward. Fortunately it was not an arte- 
rial, but a slow, oozing hemorrhage, and so the man 
did not die ; but that was not Miss Greenhorn's fault. 
And the doctor did not spare her : 

"Why did you suppose his bed was tilted up so 
that his feet were higher than his head? Don't 
you know that in itself is a sign of hemorrhage? 
Why did you suppose that tourniquet was tied to the 
foot of this particular bed? Do you see it on any of 
the other beds ? That's another sign ! And what did 
you suppose you were set to watch him for anyhow? 
Zeppelins? You've been here a week now. Tell me, 
are you solid ivory from the neck up?" 

I am not going to repeat the remainder of Jus 


scathing remarks, for he was angry and his nerves 
were none of the best. In justice to Miss Greenhorn 
it must be said that she took her whaling like a gen- 
tleman. She did not once glance at the doctor, but 
kept her eyes fixed on the French soldier whose life 
she had jeopardized by her criminal ignorance. And 
in that moment she jettisoned the last fragments of 
her ministering-angel dream. Cool hands, fevered 
brows, the kiss-me-for-I-am-dying business — all the 
false, sentimental rubbish with which she had stuffed 
her romantic young head she let go by the board 

And that, for us, is the end of Miss Greenhorn, 
save to mention that she is a real person. She told 
me the tale herself six months later, with tears only 
half of laughter in her eyes. And then she affixed 
the moral, which in brief is this: That not all of 
France's enemies are behind the German guns. 

From this solitary episode one may deduce most 
of the qualifications, both natural and acquired, that 
a volunteer nurse's aid should possess before ever she 
sets foot inside a war hospital. First of all she must 
have health. She must have the kind of health that 
does not break or crack or crock or show signs of 
wear in bad weather ; the kind of health that can pile 
one hard day on top of another hard day, and one 
hard week on top of another hard week, and one hard 
month on top of another hard month, and keep right 
on without flagging or asking the captain to stop the 


ship so she can get off and walk. Every auxiliary 
signs on for a period of at least three months, prefer- 
ably six months ; and in some hospitals abroad they 
sign on for the remainder of the war. The work is 
too severe for a delicate constitution; it has been 
known to put a crimp in a tough one ; and it is unfair 
both to the soldier and to the hospital plant to have 
human machinery that is apt to break down any 
minute. This implies youth, resiliency, reservoirs of 
stored strength, the unspent increment of physical 
endurance; and, therefore, anyone outside the ages 
from twenty to forty should ponder deeply before 
entering this most exacting branch of the service. 

Aside from good general health, the volunteer aid 
should possess what physicians term a high threshold 
to disease. She should not catch things readily. 
Microbes should be unable to obtain a foothold. In 
this respect even healthy people vary widely. One 
person will take the mumps if there is a case in the 
next county ; another may sleep in the same bed with 
the victim and go unscathed. There was a youug 
woman in our ward who caught everything. Every 
little pirate microbe that sailed the invisible seas of 
air with his jolly skull-and-crossbones flag knew her 
for a friendly island, had her marked down in his log 
book, and put in for food and repairs, sure of safe 

Tonsillitis, grippe, infected finger, swollen glands, 
infected eye, tonsillitis again — ^she had them one after 


another as fast as she could, and she finally came 
home with the jaundice ! 

But let us suppose that the candidate has passed 
her physical examination with flying colors ; that her 
back is strong; that her feet have not the slightest 
tendency to fallen arch ; that she can eat stewed horse 
without a regretful pang; that she sleeps like the 
traditional top at night, and rises from her slumbers 
fresh as the traditional daisy. There are still other 
natural qualifications to reckon with: She must be 
able to subordinate herself to the will of others, to 
take orders, to take hard, disagreeable, and often 
what she may consider unjust orders from her supe- 
riors without opening her mouth to complain. 

In the first year of the war the hospitals were 
nearly swamped by the sudden rush into them of 
grand ladies who were naught but little Miss Green- 
horns in more arrogant guise. These women had not 
the faintest notion of subordination, or of the mental 
and spiritual discipline involved in nursing. Their 
conception, in a word, was the unreal conception of 
Miss Greenhorn. They, too, were devotees of the 
Florence-Nightingale-Mary-Pickford canned brand 
of dream. They had not left their beautifully ap- 
pointed homes to carry slops, et cetera, but to nurse 
the gallant British and French lads ! And for a time 
doctors and nurses were driven almost to insanity 
under the double pressure of caring for the wounded, 
and training — or quietly assassinating and smug- 


gling down a well some dark night ! — these ignorant 
ladies who descended on the hospitals like an Egyp- 
tian plague. Nor were all of the untrained, emo- 
tional incompetents of English origin. America sent 
her quota — women who from infancy had never 
obeyed anything outside of their own vagrant fancies, 
who were congenitally incapable of sinking their own 
personalities and becoming privates for the good of 
the cause. They wanted to be colonels at the very 
least or they wouldn't play, and a field-marshal's 
baton was even more to their taste. Boss was the 
middle name of every one of them. They had ele- 
phantiasis of the mind. Such a person in the minor 
position of nurse's aid can disrupt the entire ward 
of a hospital, which, more than any other branch of 
service, resembles the army in its authorities, its 
hierarchies and gradations of rank, and the severe 
monotony of the daily routine. 

For a time there was such a Great Person in our 
ward at the American Ambulance, the sort who "my- 
good-man's" the soldiers. As for the rest, she blandly 
did what she pleased, and set the nerves of all of us 
on edge in consequence. For what she didn't please 
to do, we had to, you see ! 

One afternoon the head nurse said to her: 

"Mrs. X, will you disinfect that bed ?" And it was 
none the less a command even though it was issued 
mildly in the interrogative form. 

Mrs. X responded in her best drawing-room drawl: 


"Oh, my deah Miss C, I am so sorry! But it is 
my tea time ! And besides, really that is not my bed, 
you know !" With which piece of insolence she drifted 
languidly oif to tea. 

"What am I to do with her?" exclaimed the head 
nurse despairingly to the ward doctor, who had wit- 
nessed the insubordination. 

"Shoot her at sunrise," He suggested jovially. 
"This is a military organization. Shoot her at sun- 
rise, and put over her grave: 'Here lies a deserter. 
Shot for refusing to obey a superior officer in 
action.' "' ^ 

Of course he was right. That is precisely what 
should have been done to her. And I would have 
joined the firing squad with pleasure — for I had to 
disinfect that bed ! 

To be strong, healthy, adaptable, able to sink 
one's identity and to take orders — these are some of 
the natural qualifications of a successful volunteer 
aid. In addition she must be prepared for disagree- 
able tasks. The sight of blood, of poor fellows 
smashed to pieces, the hideous stench of gangrenous 
wounds, the screams of the dressing hour — these are 
the inevitable concomitants of a surgical ward in 
war-mangled Europe to-day, and are sufliciently dis- 
agreeable. But these are not what I mean. I mean 
the monotonous, prosaic, inglorious tasks that every- 
body loathes but somebody has to perform. And 
that somebody, eleven cases out of ten, is the nurse's 


volunteer aid. For you have not read thus far with- 
out discovering that the position of an auxiliary re- 
sembles closely that of a printer's devil. Not his the 
high responsibility of getting out the paper or de- 
ciding the politics of the editorial page; his not to 
reason why, his but to be on the living, red-hot jump 
every second of the time or get sacked by his irate 
boss. In one respect, however, the printer's devil has 
the haul over the nurse's assistant, for he receives a 
weekly envelope, while she labors for love. 

As a specimen of these monotonous tasks, an Eng- 
lish volunteer aid confessed to me that for two months 
in an English base hospital, three miles behind the 
lines, she did nothing all day save carry heavily 
loaded trays of food from the diet kitchen to a cer- 
tain table in the corridor. Day after day, from 
eight in the morning until seven at night, back and 
forth, back and forth, remote, solitary, with aching 
shoulders, this plucky young private drudged. Never 
a wounded soldier did she see. At times the hospital 
shook under German bombardment; but so far as 
romance and illusion were concerned, she might as 
well have been a slavey in a twilight basement restau- 
rant beneath the dull roar of the Sixth- Avenue ele- 
vated trains. Another young woman told me that 
for six weeks she carried nothing but bedpans. And 
at the American Ambulance, the auxiliaire who 
roomed next to me had a job of which I did not envy 
her the possession. Every evening she used to offer 


to trade it in even barter for mine. And every eve- 
ning I refused to take a cowardly advantage of her 
generosity. The position which my friend was so 
generous with was up in the operating room. And 
it was her particular duty to carry off the amputated 
members in a basket. 

The points thus far in the natural qualifications 
of a nurse's aid are health, resiliency, ability to take 
orders and to stick at mean, disagreeable jobs. Let 
us add a final one that is really the keystone of the 
entire arch. For without it the others are as sound- 
ing brass and tinkling cymbals. Nor is it acquirable : 
it is a grace, a gift. Some successful doctors and 
nurses possess it to a high degree ; others, lacking it, 
turn into dried-up turnips. There was a certain 
young surgeon in the hospital who undoubtedly pos- 
sessed this qualification. Whether he was an expert 
technician I do not know, for he left the hospital 
before I arrived and it was only the soldiers' memory 
of him, the reflected echo of his personality, that I 
received. But that was sufficient. They loved him. 
"Ah, mees," they would exclaim, "do you know Doc- 
teur James d'Amerique? Non?** And they made me 
feel that not to have known him was a profound per- 
sonal loss. "Ah, how he was kind! How he was 
good!" they would murmur fondly, and they would 
drag forth a tiny snapshot of him for me to look at, 
and laugh with delight at beholding his face. "See, 
mees ! Here he is ! Aha ! Bon jour, Docteur James !" 


Thej wished me to share with them the fragrance of 
that memory. One could not ask for a better epitaph 
than the tribute paid by these poilus to the unknown 
Docteur James d'Amerique ! Another did not possess 
this gift. Brusque, impatient of address, he would 
pull away the gauze sticking to an infected wound 
with an abruptness that invariably raised a howl; 
and exclamations of "BrutalT' "Imbecile!" "Sale 
cochon!" followed his ministrations down the ward. 
"Oh, shut up ! Shut up ! Shut up !" the doctor would 
retort in English. Now the soldiers did not know 
exactly what "Shut up" signified; without doubt in 
their minds it was some extremely naughty English 
profanity. But they had their revenge. They nick- 
named him "Docteur Shut Up." That was his 

A nurse who failed in this one respect they dubbed 
the old mitrailleuse, I have seen them sham sleep 
when she approached their bedsides for a chat. There 
was one, however, whom they loved. She was a slim, 
gold-haired Scotch miss, not much higher than the 
bedposts, but a grenadier for all that, and the quality 
I am speaking about rayed out from her in an almost 
visible aura. Not that she was "soft" or easy with 
the men. On the contrary, she cracked a whip over 
them and made them walk a chalk line of discipline, 
which they did with an open, unabashed delight in 
her. They would feign all sorts of ailments to lure 
her to their bed for a chat and massage. 


"I suffer bad here, mees !" they would begin. "No, 
not there — higher up. No, chere mees, not there. 
No — yes! Voila! Parfaitement! A-ah! Mais, 
continuez, continuezr And not a thing the matter 
with the frauds ! But they sunned themselves in her 
presence and all but fought for her smiles. That 
little Scotch miss had a way with her. Moreover, 
she loved her job. She loved It from the ground up, 
over and under and beyond and through. She loved 
it in all of its aspects and ramifications ; she loved it 
in all the hours. She had the faculty, the gift I have 
been attempting to describe. ' She had a vocation. 
And unless one possesses In some degree this natural 
delight in humanity, in sick, diseased and often dirty 
humanity, the hour soon strikes when nursing begins 
to pall. 

Thus far I have dealt only with the natural quali- 
fications that a young woman should possess if she 
desires to do volunteer nursing In this war. All those 
who, after searching their inmost hearts with sincer- 
ity, cannot pass on the above-mentioned points with 
an all-round grade of at least seventy-five per cent, 
need waste no further time on this article. They 
may get out of the procession right now and go 
round next door and sign in for canteen cooking, or 
join the hoe brigade. Step lively, please! 

At the present moment there does not exist in the 
Red Cross organization any course of instruction 
that has for its direct and primary object the train- 


ing of volunteer nurses' aids for work in surgical hos- 
pitals here or abroad. There does not exist in the 
Red Cross curriculum, as it is now constituted, any 
course that is adequate for the present crisis. The 
teaching manuals are the same that were in use before 
the war, unrevised, unchanged. They were not writ- 
ten with war in mind. Their purpose and goal is not 
our purpose and goal. And, as the textbooks have 
remained unaltered, it is inevitable that the various 
courses of instruction based upon them should be 
more or less beside the point, congested with material 
that is useless or irrelevant, and barren of certain 
fundamental facts which every volunteer aid should 
know. Sometimes when these lessons are given by 
nurses or doctors who have seen actual war service 
they are of more value, but these are exceptional, 
random cases ; and in general the courses, instead of 
hitting the bull's-eye of to-day's grim necessity, are 
faced off in another direction and shooting at an 
imaginary mark. 

There are four courses of instruction in the Red 
Cross curriculum that have a bearing, more or less 
indirect, on the subject of volunteer nursing in sur- 
gical hospitals during the present war. Let us glance 
at each in turn. 

Most popular of all is the course in First Aid. 
This is the course that nearly every woman in the 
land flew at and swallowed down whole at the outset 
of the European conflict, and, it is safe to say, with 


very slight benefit. This is not surprising, for First 
Aid was not the proper choice. To teach nursing is 
not its object. The punishment, so to speak, does 
not fit the crime. Almost purely educational in 
character, it is designed for the accidents and emer- 
gencies of our ante-bellum, peaceful past rather than 
for the precise, up-to-the-minute scientific require- 
ments of our belligerent present. 

And from the point of view of the nurse's assistant 
there are entire chapters that should be ruthlessly 
scrapped. Methods of resuscitating a drowning 
man ; cures for snake bite ; the way to tell an intoxi- 
cated gentleman from one who has merely fallen down 
in the street in a fit — these matters are interesting 
and valuable in their place ; but their place is not in 
a manual used to instruct in the art of nursing under 
present conditions. It would seem advisable that the 
First-Aid manual be taken in hand by some eminent 
surgeon who has seen war-hospital service during the 
present year — for example. Dr. George W. Crile, 
head of the Cleveland Hospital Unit, that was re- 
cently ordered to France — and blue-penciled unspar- 
ingly with actual conditions in mind. The residue, 
plus a chapter on the recent discoveries and im- 
proved methods in caring for wounds, such as the 
treatment of burns from liquid gas, and the Carrel- 
Dakin system of antiseptic irrigation of infected 
wounds, to mention but two examples, would form an 
invaluable nucleus of instruction. 


The second course in the Red Cross curriculum is 
that known as Elementary Hygiene and 'Home Gare 
of the Sick. "The primary object of this course," 
according to the pamphlet, "is to teach women per- 
sonal and household hygiene in order that they may 
acquire habits of right living which will aid in the 
prevention of sickness and the upbuilding of a strong 
and vigorous people, and to give them simple instruc- 
tion in the care of the sick of their own homes which 
will fit them to render intelligently such service as 
may be safely entrusted to them." Admirable three 
years ago in peace times, but not at all what we are 
after now. Here again, so far as the purpose of 
the volunteer nurse is concerned, the emphasis, as in 
First Aid, is on the wrong foot from the start-off. 
There are entire chapters that might be omitted with 
profit, such as the house, the care of the house and 
the laundry, the household medicine closet, the hy- 
giene of infancy and childhood. They should be 
dropped, and a more thorough, intensive and leisurely 
training be given in actual conditions prevailing in 
war hospitals of to-day. 

In addition to these courses there are two others 
of minor importance. One in Home Dietetics is en- 
tirely too elaborate for the simple requirements of the 
nurse's aid, who needs to know only the general food 
values and the compounding of invalids' drinks. 
Three or four lessons in connection with the nursing 
course should amply cover this field. The fourth 


course, the Surgical Dressings, is practical but 

These are the popular courses given under the 
auspices of the Red Cross to-day. Each, taken by 
itself, has grave defects ; and even when all four are 
combined there is such a ponderous dead weight of 
irrelevant material, pre-war nursing and medical 
junk, that for practical purposes it would seem bet- 
ter to throw them all out of the window and devise 
another course, a course compounded of the valu- 
able elements of all four, but thorough, scientific, 
modern, and above all specifically adapted to the 
actual conditions of the present fight. 

It may be argued that the necessary eliminations 
will be made by each individual. But to let the imma- 
ture, embryo nurse decide what she will and what she 
won't eliminate is a dangerous business in practice. 
It would be all right in peacetime, when she does not 
have to try it out on the dog. But she might elect 
to eliminate the wrong detail, and then find herself in 
the quandary of Miss Greenhorn, with a human life 
hanging in the scales. For though in theory an 
auxiliary has no authority and no responsibility, in 
actual practice that is far from being the truth. 
There are hours, even days, in the absence of the 
nurse, when the entire care of the ward falls on the 
shoulders of the assistant, with the head nurse look- 
ing in at rare intervals. In textbooks untrained per- 
sons are not supposed to be in positions of responsi- 


bility. In this or that emergency "Call the doctor !" 
or "Call the nurse !" they say. But suppose the doc- 
tor is up in the operating room, blocks away. Sup- 
pose the nurse is off duty. Suppose also that the 
nurses in the adj acent wards are down at lunch. For 
such precisely was the stage setting of a mishap that 
occurred in the jaw ward of the American Ambu- 
lance. The auxiliary was alone in the room. Sud- 
denly, without warning, one of the jaw cases began 
to hemorrhage from the mouth and nostrils. Bright 
arterial blood spurted high as the ceiling and stained 
adjoining beds. In less than ten minutes the man 
was dead. What should the auxiliary have done? 
The event proved that in that particular case not a 
whole regiment of doctors could have saved the pa- 
tient ; but the responsibility was there. And it is for 
just such tight corners of actuality that a volunteer 
nurse should be prepared. And for such prepared- 
ness the teaching manuals and the lectures based 
upon them should deal, not with the diffuse and gen- 
eral matters of health, but exclusively and incisively 
with the realities of the present crisis. In addition, 
it should be noted that the Red Cross, in connection 
with its nursing course, "hopes that a limited number 
of hours of practical experience will be provided by 
the base hospitals" ; but such practical experience is 
not deemed essential to a certificate. 

Aside from these courses, three is a course given 
by the Young Women's Christian Association of New 


York City, which for practical purposes covers the 
requirements of the present situation in an almost 
ideal fashion. It is, in fact, the most admirable 
course of instruction on the market — scientific, mod- 
ern, intensive, complete. It is called the Trained 
Attendant Course, and is given by Johns Hopkins 
nurses of the highest standards of excellence, who 
are trained teachers as well. The course covers 
eleven weeks of daily instruction and practice, with 
an obligatory companion course in invalid cookery. 

With the natural and technical qualifications of the 
volunteer nurse's aid thus disposed of, one may look 
about and query where suitable material is to be 
found. The answer is at hand : In the colleges. Col- 
lege women of the two upper classes form a compact 
body, already listed, easy to mobilize. Young, sup- 
ple, adaptable, mentally and physically fit, with a 
background of discipline behind them, they are excel- 
lent instruments for the purpose. Sharpen them to 
a point by an adequate course of instruction, and 
three months should produce a corps of workers suf- 
ficient for a year. These might then be registered 
and called upon at need. 

It is a feature of the present disaster that no one 
can gauge the future. One man's guess is as good as 
another's. It is safe to say that two years ago no 
one foresaw that to-day the United States would be 
in the arena as the protagonist of democracy. Nor 
can anyone predict with assurance what the next two 


years will hold : Whether we shall have a big expedi- 
tionary force in France; whether by that time we 
may not be fighting on our own soil; or whether the 
whole infernal business may not burst like a bubble 
before the month is out. But this much seems cer- 
tain — American surgery and American hospitals are 
counted the best in the world both in the preventive 
and in the follow-up field. And since our entry into 
the war the governments of the United States, Great 
Britain and France have had under consideration a 
proposition for placing the entire French ambulance 
service, and later on the entire British ambulance 
service, under the United States army medical corps. 
So there you are, dear procession, right up against 
your job! I hope you like its dimensions. As the 
darky says, "You done chawed off a mouthful !" And 
that is all for this time, except — God bless you, girls ! 
Go to it! And remember, it's our own men this 


"GuAED well the little ones to-day, Marthe. Don't 
let them out of sight or play too far from home. 
You know Emile hates to wear his gas mask. He 
tears it off and hides it, the naughty rogue, soon as 
the back is turned. There! Listen! It has com- 
menced again — the bombardment !" 

Marthe's mother, a short, stocky French peasant 
with a heavy, weather-roughened face and deep-blue 
eyes, held up her hand for attention ; and Marthe, a 
slim gypsy child of seven, dirty and unkempt, with 
great gleaming black eyes and an uncombed mat of 
curly black hair, cocked an indifferent ear to listen ; 
in fact, she was somewhat scornful of her mother's 
continued terror of that distant muffled roar. Heard 
thus, ten kilometers or more away, it was not unlike 
the shock of a heavy surf breaking on a rocky coast. 
For three years now Marthe had heard that sound. 
She had heard it near at hand when a big shell had 
exploded bang! right on top of her own house and 
knocked all one side out open to the sky — after which 
they had dragged the furniture downstairs and lived 



in the cellar ; she had heard it farther off when bing \ 
bang ! the spire of the old mossy stone church across 
the way had crashed down into the street and all of 
the saints save only Mother Mary and her little Son 
had tumbled, face down, from their niches; she had 
heard it the last thing at night when she went to sleep, 
and she had risen to its sound in the morning. 

And familiarity had bred contempt. It was part 
of the everyday tissue of her life, common as the 
Boches' avions, which went sailing high overhead in 
the sky, tiny as minute dragon flies, and disappeared 
into fleecy clouds. For Marthe and her mother lived 
in a little village in the war zone, just in front of a 
line of concealed French batteries which the enemy 
had long been striving to demolish. 

And when the Boches became enraged at their fail- 
ure in locating the French batteries which roared 
nightly defiance they would deliberately turn their 
guns upon the defenseless civilian villages in between, 
abandoned by all save a few old people and poor 
families who had nowhere else to go ; and perhaps 
they would kill an old woman or mangle a child play- 
ing in the deserted streets ; after which sport, encour- 
aged and refreshed, they would go after the French 
batteries again. Jean, a village boy, had explained 
all this to Marthe. His entire family had been killed 
in an explosion, and since then he had turned into a 
wild, moody character, following the army or roaming 
the countryside. 


Marthe listened to the distant struggle of artillery 
and then she shrugged her shoulders and said calmly : 
"It is not near. To-day it is not as near as yester- 
day. I do not think they will bother us any more. 
For yesterday Jean and I went through the village 
and counted, and every single house had been hit. 
They have finished with us, maman! If the guns do 
not come after us this afternoon may I take Emile 
and gather flowers for the shrines ?" 

Her mother shook her head. The frugal breakfast 
of soup over she was fastening on her apron of coarse 
ticking to go to work in her field. It was for the 
sake of that precious plot of five hectares of wheat 
that she had stayed on in the village, taking fearsome 
chances, after the enemy had started to gas the en- 
tire district and the French orders of evacuation had 

"You would let little Emile be gassed," she mur- 
mured reproachfully, "while you run off to gather 
flowers !" 

"Zut! They have not gassed us for ten days. And 
it is cold down here, maman. Even in the mid- 
dle of the day it is cold — and dark. Emile 
sneezes all the time. And he is getting as white as 

Ker mother sighed. "Very well," she consented 
grudgingly, "you may go. But for an hour only. 
I do not like it, though. Tie Emile's mask behind his 
back where he cannot find it." 


"Yes, maman. But they are not going to gas us 
any more. Jean said so." 

"That Jean!" cried her mother angrily. "What 
does he know about it? Even the good God Himself 
does not know any more what they will do ! And I 
will not have you playing with that scamp, that 
jeune sauvage. He is not respectable. Chasing all 
over the country! Following the soldiers! Helas! 
What is our poor country coming to ? A fine crop of 
young vagabonds we shall have after the war !" 

She thrust into her pocket a hunk of dark sour 
bread and a fragment of cheese, kissed Emile and 
Marthe, caught up from the mattress a pallid, som- 
ber-eyed girl baby, and went out to the field. 

Left to herself, Marthe took Emile, climbed the 
few steps leading up from her cave home and sat 
watching the German aeroplanes. They passed, 
singly or in groups, frequently. . The thin drone of 
their motors coming from the north could be heard 
long before even Marthe's keen eyes could pick out 
the black speck far up in the pale-blue ether. The 
thunder of artillery had grown fainter and died away. 
Certainly Jean was right. What was the fun of 
shooting at houses that were already knocked down? 

That afternoon, with Emile clinging to her fingers 
and every now and then looking up with a delighted 
smile into her eyes, Marthe led the way to the ruined 
church. From the leather belt which secured the 
boy's diminutive black cotton apron dangled the gas 


mask. According to orders Marthe had tied it be- 
hind his back, and at every step it bobbed up and 
down like an absurd little antiquated bustle. The 
sun shone brilliantly. It was an ideal day in which 
to be out of the cellar. Arrived at the church, with 
its small inclosed garden of silent inhabitants, Marthe 
ensconced Emile, always obedient, smiling and ten- 
der, upon a grave close under the wall of the old 
stone chapel, and then rambled off to gather bouquets 
for the shrines. 

How long she remained away, how far she wan- 
dered, she did not know ; but when she returned little 
Emile had mysteriously vanished. In her absence 
the old stone church had altered also. One entire 
side had fallen out and lay prone, a chaos of tumbled 
broken granite, upon the mossy ground. And now 
Marthe recalled having heard an explosion, but so 
accustomed were her ears to the sound that at the 
time she had but vaguely marked it. That accounted 
for the church certainly. 

But Emile — where was Emile, obedient, tender lit- 
tle Emile? She ran about, peering behind grave- 
stones, calling shrilly, and at length, smitten by a 
nameless anguish of horror, scared in every atom of 
her small being without knowing why, she fled, sob- 
bing wildly, to her mother and poured out her story. 

That night there was a hurried exodus. Marthe's 
mother, broken by the death of her small son — for 
if his disappearance was a mystery to the girl it was 


not to her mother after one glance at the high-piled 
broken granite — decided to give up her field; but it 
was like wrenching her heart out of her body. Jean, 
chancing by that way at dusk, offered his company 
as far as the next village, for Marthe's mother, a true 
peasant, had never in her life traveled more than a 
dozen kilometers from her own doorstep, and knew 
less of the outside world than she knew of heaven. So 
Jean had taken charge. And now he walked beside 
the refugees, carrying a huge blanketful of their pos- 
sessions strapped across his shoulders and holding by 
the hand Marthe, who still wept bitterly at the 
thought of abandoning her little Emile to the cold 
and the dark of the deserted churchyard. She pic- 
tured him sobbing and stumbling among the mossy 
stones, and calling in sweet, plaintive tones for his 
sister. That the fall of the church wall had any- 
thing to do with the vanishing of Emile did not once 
enter her head. The two were separate catastrophes 
— the one, familiar, ordinary ; the other, mystifying, 
terrible. She, too, bore a sack of household goods 
upon her back, and from her free hand dangled a 
small, battered bird cage. 

Behind them trudged Marthe's mother, harnessed 
to the shafts of a dump cart piled high with mat- 
tresses and bedding, and bearing on top the small 
slumbering Georgette, cozy and warm, nested deep in 
pillows. Since viewing the fallen wreck of the church 
not one sound had the mother uttered. If she had 


marked Jean's opportune appearance on the scene 
she did not betray any sign of his presence. And now 
she plodded forward, shoulders bent, gripping the 
shafts, dry-eyed, stolid, mute. What were her 
thoughts upon that twilight road? 

Ahead of her Marthe and Jean held low-voiced 
conversation as to the probable whereabouts of Emile. 
The boy, who upon hearing her tale had instantly 
divined the truth, declared it was his opinion that the 
sacred Mother Marie, looking out through the win- 
dow from her shrine in the church, had seen Emile, 
and noting what a gentle and gay little kid he was 
had borrowed him for a time to play in the sky with 
her own small Son, who without doubt must be hor- 
ribly bored among all those solemn, grown-up saints 
and angels. And this idea of the jeune sauvage, the 
vagabond of the fields, comforted Marthe greatly. 

In time they arrived at a village which thus far 
had escaped shelling. A shelter was found for them. 
And for a month the peasant mother remained in her 
new, strange surroundings. But her heart was so 
heavy that she could not sleep or eat or speak. She 
suffered as an animal suffers, dumbly. A stranger 
would have called her sullen — a clod. For hours on 
end she sat in the same chair, heavy, immobile, and 
stared out upon a field of grain and poppies and 
thought of her own plot lying untended in the sun. 
And finally the tug of the soil became too strong. 
She returned. 


Established once more in the damp cellar of their 
wrecked home she became herself again, and the first 
night she chatted volubly with Marthe, to whom she 
had scarcely addressed a word since their flight ; she 
even sang as she hushed the small Georgette to sleep. 

"Listen, petite^ she said to Marthe after supper. 
"I am going down the street a moment to see 
Madame Barrois. She tends the field next mine. 
Perhaps also I can get some goat's milk for the 
&^6^. Ne houge pas! Sois sage — hein?'\ And 
Marthe had promised soberly not to budge and to be 
good. She felt lonely the first night, and she wished 
that Mother Marie would see fit to return Emile. 
There was such a thing as keeping a borrowed article 
too long! 

Half an hour later her mother burst into the cel- 
lar, tears upon her cheek and a strange light in her 
eye. In her arms she bore a child who bit and wailed 
and kicked and screamed without cessation : "Maman! 
Maman! Mamanr* 

"Ca y est! Tais-toi, mon petit gosse!" (Enough ! 
Enough ! Keep still, my little boy !) murmured Mar- 
the's mother, pressing the small head close to her 
bosom. "Thy maman is gone, pauvre enfant !'* 

She placed the sobbing child in Marthe's arms. 
"Listen to me," she said. ''Emile was taken from 

"I know. The Mother Marie borrowed him to 
play with the infant Jesus. Jean said so." 


"Very good. For once that Jean was not so far 
off. And now the good Mother Marie has given us 
this poor little one to nourish in Emile's stead." 

To Mar the this exchange seemed only simple jus- 
tice and she did not trouble her head with the details 
of the transaction. Nor did her mother explain that 
on arriving at the dugout of her friend she had 
knocked repeatedly without receiving a response and 
was on the point of leaving when from out of the 
darkness behind the door had sounded a shrill, angry, 
sobbing little voice : ^^Maman! Maman! J^ai froid! 
rat froidr 

Hastily Marthe's mother forced the door, made a 
light, and discovered her friend lying upon the floor, 
the victim of a shell, and the child beating the still, 
inanimate figure with his puny fists and crying : "Ma- 
man! Wake up ! I'm cold !" 

After this Marthe's mother tended her own and 
her neighbor's field, and Marthe joyfully tended little 
Emile's substitute. 

One afternoon shortly afterward she took her new 
acquisition out to wash him in the canal and see what 
kind of bargain Mother Marie had made with her 
anyhow. And while she was thus employed, down 
on her knees scrubbing absorbedly, there drew up 
quietly behind her a large, military-gray automobile, 
from which two men descended. It was, in fact. Pre- 
fect Mirman with an American friend. M. Mirman 
was prefect of the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, 


a portion of the country bordering on Alsace, which 
included a large area of the battling frontier of 
France. The prefect himself held a position com- 
parable in importance to the governorship of New 
York, and he had in his heart a deep overflowing 
love for his suffering people which resembled that of 

But Marthe could not know that. She sprang to 
her feet, terribly startled, staring behind the men 
at the big, gray, snorting, quivering, smoking beast 
— the first she had ever laid eyes on — and instinc- 
tively threw her new little brother behind her. The 
prefect, reading her intention of flight, laid a re- 
straining grasp on her shoulders. Marthe faced 
him, pale, hostile, her pupils steadily enlarging. 

"Poor unfortunates!" said the American. "Why 
are they permitted to remain?" 

The prefect smiled slightly. "They are not. They 
stay without permission. It is impossible for you 
Americans, who are always traveling about, to con- 
ceive the love, the passion with which our poor peo- 
ple cling to the nourishing soil. Transplant them 
rudely, scientifically as you may say, and they pine, 
they die. That is the simple truth. Well, what are 
we to do? For example, take this situation. All 
throughout this northern-frontier district the civilian 
population was ordered to evacuate when the enemy 
started its deliberate bombarding and gassing of de- 
fenseless open towns. 


"Some of these little villages lie directly in the 
line of attack. It is conceivable that, given a tem- 
porary reverse of our army, they might fall into 
Prussian hands. And should that unfortunate event 
occur I do not want left in those villages any women, 
any young maids, any half-grown lads or any infants ! 
The majority of the population, of course, get out 
instantly when the evacuation orders come. But 
there is always left a residue of those who cannot or 
will not go, poor people in villages or farmers who 
have never traveled farther than twenty kilometers 
in their lives, and whom it is as hard to uproot, even 
in this time of stress, as it is to uproot a hardy old 
tree. Simply they prefer to remain here and take 
their chances. But that must not be! 

*'So for the past two months, since the evacuation 
orders became effective, I have driven from one end 
ito another of my department, searching out those 
*who remain behind. And I explain, I beg, I urge, I 
entreat. I promise that they shall not go far from 
home; that their children shall remain with them; 
that as soon as it is safe they shall return; and if 
tJiey have crops in the ground they may go certain 
days to tend them, leaving the children in safety. 
It has defects, of course, this plan of mine, for often 
our shelters are bombed, but just at present it is the 
best I can do." 

And here the prefect, one of the most romantic and 
truly great figures in France, looked down at the 


reluctant young person he had been holding fast while 
he discoursed, and said : "Well, little mother ! How- 
goes it, eh?" 

Silence. Marthe simply stared at him, clutching 
tightly behind her the substitute Emile, naked save 
for a pair of diminutive trousers. 

"Where is mamanf'* 


"Who is that you are hiding behind you?" 

"Nobody. There's nobody behind me!" At this 
mendacious statement the prefect, father of his dis- 
trict, laughed. "Ha ! 'Tis a little angel then? I'm 
going to see !" 

He bent over her shoulder. But Marthe, who had 
been edging out from under the restraining hand, 
suddenly whirled, caught up the boy, scudded to her 
cellar across the way, and shut and barricaded the 
door. She was not going to risk a second disappear- 

The prefect approached, knocked, and addressed 
gentle, persuasive words to the invisible occupants. 
There was no response. 

"We shall have to wait," he said, returning to the 
automobile. "Of course we could use violence — but 
there's been enough of that !" 

And wait they did for more than two hours, the 
prefect calm, patient, determined. In the interval 
he related some of his experiences as prefect in con- 
nection with the German capture of French towns 


at the commencement of the war. That the iron had 
entered the soul of this strong, tender governor of 
his people was evident, for with all his manifold 
duties he had taken time to compile a book of officially 
vouched-for cases of outrages occurring within his 
own department, for the benefit of those who pooh- 
poohed the idea of German atrocities. The first sen- 
tence of that poignant little book reads: "Void un 
livre d^horreurs; c'est, helas! un livre de verite" 
(This is a book of horrors; it is, alas, a book of 

And those Americans who hold that the Germans 
are really very fine fellows, but simply misled by their 
overlords, should have a confidential chat with Pre- 
fect Mirman, the great-hearted governor of that 
frontier section of France. 

It was deep twilight before Marthe's mother re- 
turned from her work. With two fields under bom- 
bardment to tend instead of one, life was no joke. 
To her the prefect explained the object of his visit. 
Since the fathers of France were away fighting, he, 
the prefect, was trying to be father to all the chil- 
dren in his department, to watch over them, to keep 
them decent boys and girls, in church and in school, 
to teach them trades and safeguard them until their 
parents' return. 

Marthe's mother listened, pondered, put a few 
practical questions. The place to which he would 
take them — it was far? No, close at hand ; in effect. 


just behind that hill. And her children, they would 
be with her? But surely ! And she could return when 
necessary to care for her fields? The prefect gave 
her his word. Whereupon Marthe's mother, so spar- 
ing of emotion, suddenly burst into tears and con- 

Three days later saw the entire family transported 
to Toul and safely installed in a temporary barracks 
provided by Prefect Mirman. It was a big, bare, 
uncomfortable, insanitary affair, and it seemed as if 
all the young ragamuffins of France had been collected 
there in one sorry regiment. The story of Marthe 
might serve as a type for most. But there were 
some whose histories, written in their small peaked 
faces and sullen gaze, had a more sinister cast ; some 
had lost an eye ; some had lost a hand ; some had lost 
parents; and most of them had lost their childhood 
gayety. Gathered up from miles along the frontier 
where the artillery fire was hottest, out of dank, 
dirty cellars or unspeakably foul dugouts and caves, 
living without air, baths, change of garments or the 
simplest sanitary arrangements, they were a dismal, 
pallid, vermin-infested, scarecrow little crew — and yet 
they were the budding hope of France, as nobody 
knew better than the prefect. 

But what to do with them after he had got them 
together? It was a sore question. For what these 
small unfortunates needed beyond everything were 
baths, doctors, nurses, teachers, someone to teach 


them to smile again — and always more and more 
baths. Out of the three hundred and fifty, twenty- 
one were babies under one year; many of them had 
contagious skin diseases ; a few had tuberculosis ; 
and all, sick and well, were crowded together without 

Food and shelter were all the prefect could be sure 
of, for these the French Government furnished, but 
more in the present stress it could not promise, for 
all the French doctors and nurses were already occu- 
pied with the war. And the worst of it was that 
more and more children and mothers would be arriv- 
ing as the wave of battle swept toward other villages 
or wholesale gassing set in. It was a thoroughly bad 
piece of business all round — a kind of vicious circle 
with no visible outlet. But not for one moment did 
these difficulties stump the prefect of the department 
of Meurthe-et-Moselle. He had rescued these chil- 
dren and got them together — that was his job. Now 
somebody had to take care of them ; he couldn't, the 
French Government couldn't. Therefore — somebody 
else had to ! 

And it is exactly at this point, at that "somebody," 
that the American Red Cross enters the story. For 
in the acute and immediate need the prefect tele- 
graphed for aid to a well-known American woman in 
Paris. She brought the telegram to Major Murphy, 
Commissioner for Europe of the American Red Cross, 
and he at once got into action. Within a few hours 


eight workers were on their way to Toul — a doctor, 
a nurse, two aids, and women to take charge of the 
administration. At the same time there started a 
camionette loaded with clothing and food. 

Thus began the first activity of the American Red 
Cross for the civil population of France — and it be- 
gan very appropriately with the children. 

When, one morning several weeks later, I visited 
this refugee center high up on a sunshiny hill, a gen- 
eral transformation had taken place. The children, 
numbering by this time about five hundred, with sixty 
mothers, had been moved into a newly constructed 
barracks of brick and cement furnished by the French 
Government, which also supplied heat, light, rations, 
cooks, unskilled labor and camion service for trans- 
portation. This plant, in its bare elements, was then 
turned over to the American Red Cross to supple- 
ment and run as it pleased. And when I arrived the 
American administration was in full swing. To me 
the children looked surprisingly well and happy — 
almost too happy, in fact, in view of their grim past ! 
And I remarked upon this fact to the director. 

"Well," he laughed, "if you are after local color 
you should have seen them — and smelled them! — 
when we first took hold. The very first thing we did 
was to establish louse clinics — 'de-lousing' is the tech- 
nical term. Don't shudder! They're about clean 
now, but in the beginning we had some horrible little 
heads. The soldiers in the winter trenches had noth- 


ing on those children in the way of vermin and filth. 
And at the same time we inaugurated the good old 
American institution of shower baths." 

"And what did the mothers think of these?" 

The doctor chuckled. "Scandalous! Immorall 
Indelicate ! Designed to murder their poor children 
outright! Some of these peasant women, you know, 
have never taken a bath in the altogether in their 
lives. They still continue the customs handed down 
to them since the time of Louis XI. They bathe little 
boys in their trousers — put 'em in the tub with their 
trousers on ; indelicate to remove 'em, you see ! They 
bathe little girls with their chemises on. And babies 
they don't bathe at all. Yes, the shower bath was 
a novelty. But I may add that it was a novelty which 
took with the children from the start. Now they 
fight for a chance at it! 

"Come here, Marthe, and say 'Bonjour^ to the 
lady." He caught by the hand a passing little girl 
with great bright dark eyes and dark curls neatly 
twined. Beside her trotted a small boy, decked in his 
Sunday best. Thus I had my introduction to Marthe 
and the substitute brother whom the Mother Marie 
had sent down to replace the borrowed Emile. 

"She is never without that boy," continued the di- 
rector. "She seems to be afraid somebody is going 
to steal him." And then he told me her story, nar- 
rated above. "Here is her mother," he added as a 
woman approached along the path. "She has walked 


all the way from her home to spend a few days with 
her children. These peasant mothers come and go 
as they will ; they visit with us a few days and then 
return to their fields. Bon jour, madamey** he said, 
turning to her. "How goes that crop of wheat ?" 

"Not bad, monsieur. But yesterday — what a mis- 
fortune ! An obus fell right in the middle of the field 
where the grain is highest and dug a crater wide as 
this.'* She extended her two arms. "Sale brute!** 
(Dirty brute !) "Grace a Dieu! I was off in another 
corner of the field." 

"You are very courageous," I said, "to work like 
that for your children in those bombarded fields." 

"But no ! But no ! It is not for the infants. It 
is that the soldiers of France may have food." 

"There you are!" exclaimed the director in Eng- 
lish. "That's what they all say — and just as unself- 
consciously. They don't know what a magnificent 
piece of work they're pulling off !" 

At this moment Marthe interrupted to show me her 
sewing and the mother passed on to her baby, the 
little Georgette. Later I saw this tiny, woeful crea- 
ture, born in a cellar, under sound of heavy guns. 
Frail, transparent, pale as a snowdrop, she lay in her 
mother's arms. Not once in her two years had she 
been seen to smile. I did not blame her. Such a 
world was not worth smiling on ! She showed a rare 
judgment beyond her age. Nevertheless, for five min- 
utes I held her in my arms, hating the Germans, and 


trying by all arts to bring a flash of mirth to that 
solemn, drooping little mouth. Vain enterprise. I 
might as well have tried to make the Sphinx laugh. 

After that, accompanied by the director, I made 
a tour of the buildings, built after the usual fashion 
of military cantonments, in the form of a hollow 
square. Everything was scrupulously clean, the 
floors scrubbed, the windows flung wide open, and 
fresh sunshine flooded the dormitories, where the 
mothers sat chatting together, their babies at their 

"This beats caves as a summer resort !" I said. 

The director nodded rather grimly. In company 
with M. Mirman he had made rescues from some of 
those caves. 

"And we're going to beat them still more before 
we're through. Here in this small settlement we are 
trying to achieve a model community. Already we 
have a clinic, an infirmary, a hospital of eighty beds, 
a kindergarten, a church, schools, a store, a recrea- 
tion teacher — in short, a welfare center for children 
as scientific and humane as anything to be found in 
America. But that is not enough. Compared with 
the need this one single unit is only a drop in the 
bucket. And so we are planning to make Toul a kind 
of nucleus from which we shall ray out in all direc- 
tions. Already we have a traveling dispensary start- 
ing from this point, with a doctor and nurse, which 
visits through twenty-five villages, treating the chil- 


dren in their homes and fetching back to the hospital 
the contagious and tubercular cases. Such a system 
keeps up the general health par in the areas visited 
and prevents the sudden spread of epidemics. 

"At Nesle, a town in the devastated district, we 
have established another unit — a small hospital and 
another automobile dispensary which carries aid to 
the outlying districts. In that region, of course, 
the problem is somewhat different from our own, be- 
cause the Germans, having retreated, the children do 
not need to be collected in one place to protect them 
from gassing or bombing. They remain in their 
homes — if one can call homes those ruined and burned 
shells, despoiled of every stick of furniture, every 
kitchen utensil, and even the orchards cut down and 
the wells defiled! — and we go to them. We go to 
them with our traveling clinics in an ambulance con- 
taining a full outfit of medical stores — and a bath! 
We carry the makings of that bath right along with 
us on the floor of the machine — a tub, tubing, a spray 
and a pumping apparatus. And when we arrive at 
a home where a child needs a clean-up we heat water 
in the kitchen, stick the small victim into the tub — 
without trousers or chemise, you bet ! — and we bathe 
it after the rules laid down by the Greek nymph Are- 
thusa, who lived in a fountain and who, according 
to the Limerick, used to wash, sans mackintosh — 
b'gosh, sans anything ! 

"It is the simple, serious truth that baths are the 


greatest hygienic need of these children at the pres- 
ent time ; and by bringing baths into their homes we 
are helping to restore the health of the entire dis- 
trict. So successful have been our efforts at Toul and 
Nesle that the French authorities have earnestly re- 
quested us to broaden our scope and establish centers 
in other needy districts. And this is what we are 
doing as fast as we can. Eventually we intend to 
have a chain of centers, linked together by automo- 
bile dispensaries, strung along that whole northern 
frontier just behind the battle lines, in order to care 
for the thousands of children who, no less than the 
men in the trenches, are giving their lives in this 

"As the situation stands to-day France is burn- 
ing her candle at both ends; she is at one and the 
same time losing her men and her children. With our 
American soldiers once in the trenches we are going 
to check the colossal loss of man power; and in the 
interval until our fellows arrive, with our hospitals, 
our clinics, our traveling dispensaries and our schools 
we are doing our best to check the loss of her child 
power. This type of scientific social work is the sort 
of thing America excels in; for the last ten years 
we've gone in hard for it. I suppose we've got a 
flair for it, just as the French have for pure science. 
Anyhow, as a nation we can do that particular job 
better than anybody else on earth. And for the 
American Red Cross to throw into the breach our 


finely trained child specialists is to render France 
in this hour an inestimable benefit." 

This sketches the effort of the Red Cross for the 
children of the war zone in free France. But not all 
of France is "free," as the French themselves touch- 
ingly call it. And that portion of it which still is 
not free, the immensely rich mining and manufactur- 
ing district under German rule, has also its child 
problem. That problem the Germans have dealt with 
in their characteristic brutal fashion. They are sim- 
ply sweeping out of the country, as with a gigantic 
broom, all these small, food-consuming nonproducers. 
Across the Northern Swiss frontier they are being 
thrust into France at the rate of nearly five hundred 
a day — more than ten thousand a month ! Here is a 
child problem with a vengeance ! Of course it is not 
the children alone who are being swept out, but all 
the nonproducing inhabitants. If they can't work — 
heraus mit 'em ! Dump the refuse out the back door 
into France. Shift the food burden of all those hun- 
dreds of thousands of useless inhabitants onto the 
enemy. From a purely materialistic point of view 
this wholesale act of dispossession is a fine move — 
and France is glad to have her people back at any 
price! Also, she has food to burn! 

Evian-les-Bains is the gate of entry for these exiles 
— rapatries the French call them — and accordingly 
to Evian I went. It is a beautiful, quaint little town 
on Lake Geneva, high, Alp-encircled, and with an air 


like iced champagne. Formerly a fashionable water- 
ing place, it has now been transformed into a kind 
of Ellis Island receiving station for the refugees, who 
pour in by trainloads, twenty thousand a month. 

Here daily is to be witnessed one of the most tragic 
processionals that his:tory has ever yet oifered to 
man — a nation on the march ! But a nation dispos- 
sessed, broken and diseased, old men and old women 
and mothers with children — the past and the future 
generations — with the present generation strikingly 
absent! For the young men are held to work the 
mines and the factories, and the young women are 
held — but even in France one rarely speaks of that 
phase of the subject, which is the blackest of all 
black pages of German occupation. What "efficient" 
explanation is Germany going to offer, at the big 
post-bellum tribunal of the nations, for the girls sent 
into white slavery in the Ardennes? 

Three years have elapsed since the Germans con- 
quered the northern part of France, and since then 
the inhabitants have lived in a state of complete iso- 
lation, cut off from news of their families in free 
France, sons and husbands who fled before the in- 
vaders ; cut off also from any reliable information 
concerning the war or the great outer world. Not 
a single letter are they permitted to send or receive. 
This incredible act of mental cruelty I did not be- 
lieve until I arrived in Evian, questioned the refugees 
themselves and the authorities, and entered the fam- 


ous letter room, where hundreds of thousands of let- 
ters are filed, often months ahead of time, awaiting 
the possible return of some exile relative. 

Newspapers these people have, to be sure, but they 
are journals printed by the Germans in French, os- 
tensibly to give current events, but actually to spread 
German propaganda and despair. I glanced through 
some of these papers. According to them England 
is speedily starving to death ; Russia is about to con- 
clude a separate peace ; France has been bled white ; 
America is a noisy four-flusher — and Deutschland is 
ilber alles! Under ordinary conditions such a crude 
tissue of lies would merit only a burst of scornful 
laughter ; but given a captured civilian population as 
isolated from their loved ones as if they were ghosts, 
a prey to constant anxiety concerning the welfare of 
France, and this daily insidious attack upon a morale 
already enfeebled by adversity is bound to have a 
damaging effect. 

Of these journals the Gazette des Ardennes is the 
most notorious. 

The first evening I waited at the station I do not 
know exactly what I expected to see — but, anyhow, 
something that would rend the heartstrings. I for- 
got that this station represented to those pilgrims the 
end of a three-years* captivity ; that every kilometer 
of the long, wearisome three-days' journey from Bel- 
gium, where they had been quarantined, brought 
them nearer letters, nearer a resumption of family 


ties, nearer a tender welcome from free France. 

It was cold. A light snow had fallen on the circle 
of mountains, and a chill wind blew up from the lake. 
The Red Cross ambulance drivers had backed their 
machines close to the platform to care for the sick 
and the old, and now they stood by the tracks, ready 
to lend a hand to the incoming crowd. I was in the 
mood of Antony : "If you have tears, prepare to shed 
them now!" when the refugee train pulled into the 
station; and to my surprise I saw flags bursting 
from every open window — the French Tricolor, the 
Stars and Stripes, Red Cross flags, handkerchiefs, 
bundles, any old thing — frantically waving a welcome 
from a thousand eager hands ! Who said anybody 
was sad? Besides flags, the windows were crowded 
full of heads — -happy, excited children, mothers hold- 
ing up babies, and smiling, seamed old countenances 
wreathed in white hair. And from within the cars, 
above the noisy hubbub, ascended high and sweet the 
strains of the Marseillaise. 

The train slowed to a dead stop. Suddenly an old 
man leaned far out of a window, waved both arms, 

and shouted fiercely: *^Vive la France! Vive " 

He broke off sharply, looked down into a face below 
him on the platform and queried in low, anxious 
tones: "Say, We are in France, hein?'' What an 
indiscretion if he had yelled that in German terri- 

"Yes, you are in France. But descend, papa! 


Descend, maman! Allans y mes enfants, descendez, 
s'il vous plait r* 

It was the cheerful voice of the Red Cross man, 
M. Barrois, himself a rapatrie, with a wife and six 
children left behind in Lille, who assisted daily at the 
detraining of the refugees. 

"But these people are not sad!" I objected to M. 
Barrois, still full of surprise. "They do not even 
look tired. Are they always gay like this ?" 

"It's a lively crowd to-night," he replied soberly, 
"on account of so many children. But some days 
they do not have a word to say. And you must not 
be deceived by their surface gayety. The sadness is 
there, underneath, just the same. You'll find it if 
you stay." 

He was right. The first evening I caught only the 
false glow of excitement of the returning pilgrims. 
But as I watched night after night the endless pro- 
cession of those who passed I began to discriminate, 
and to note beneath the happy eagerness on those 
faces the deeper substructure of strain, of suffering 
so long endured that it had become a habit. And 
as the thousands marched before me, successive waves 
of exiles, always different and yet mysteriously the 
same in their look of subdued suffering, of strain, I 
had a fleeting realization of what France has borne 
in this war. 

With such throngs pouring daily into this one 
small receiving station a very careful organization 



has of necessity been evolved in order not to congest 
the transportation. The following is the order of 
each day: At the last station on the Swiss frontier 
French Red Cross nurses enter the train and tag 
the sick and aged. At Evian these are put into am- 
bulances, the others walking the short distance to the 
Casino, where await them an ample hot supper, music, 
and a tender speech of welcome by the mayor of 
Evian. After which they register, receive their let- 
ters, pass a medical examination, and are assigned 
lodgings in the town. 

The first night I waited to see the last malade and 
the last baby safely stowed inside before I climbed 
into the front seat with the ambulance driver. As 
we struck the open lake road an icy wind straight off 
Mont Blanc made me shiver. A soldier on permission 
clinging to the running board beside me turned up 
his collar, muttering : "This is worse than the trenches 
in the Vosges." He had come up to search for his 
refugee wife, from whom he had not heard in three 

"But she might arrive any day !" he argued hope- 
fully. "I will teach you something extraordinary," 
he continued. "A comrade of mine came up here 
looking for his wife ; he had dreamed a dream about 
her. And what do you think — the very first woman 
who stepped off the train was she ! 

"I had another friend, whose wife had died in Lille 
leaving a little daughter of two, whom the father had 


never seen. He did not even know what had become 
of her, for he could get no word. A rapatrie friend, 
who informed him of his wife's death, could give no 
news of the little maid. Nevertheless, he came to 
Evian hoping to find some trace. And each day at 
the station as the throng passed he stood quietly 
holding out in his hand what looked like a postal 
card. And whenever a little girl appeared he thrust 
that card under her nose. Absurd, eh? A fool, a 
lunatic, sticking a piece of cardboard into every 
child's face! But one day when he held it in front 
of a little maid she suddenly burst into tears and 
cried out: ^Maman! Mamanr That postal card 
bore the picture of her mother. And that's the way 
he found his child !" 

It was twilight when we arrived at the Casino, and 
already the place was packed. Seated at long tables 
the refugees had stowed their precious bundles be- 
neath their feet and were falling upon supper with a 
will. Between the tables passed the women of Evian 
with tureens of steaming soup, huge platters of meat 
that the Germans would have bartered their very 
souls for, and great pitchers of hot milk and of wine. 
And how those children gobbled ! And how their eld- 
ers followed their example ! The platters passed and 
repassed. Through the big double doors facing Swit- 
zerland gleamed Lake Geneva, dimly purple through 
the gloom. Overhead in the balcony the band began 
to tune up. 


Suddenly all over the hall the lights flashed on 
strongly and the same instant the band burst into 
the stirring impetuous strains of Chasseurs Alpins! 
As that gay beloved air broke across the room an elec- 
tric shock of emotion seemed to pass along the tables. 
Men leaped up, shouting ''Vive la France T* Women 
began to weep softly. Handkerchiefs were out every- 
where. Yes, the long blight of captivity, of isolation, 
was past forever ! That tune proved it ! 

And it was just at this chosen moment that the 
mayor of Evian came forward to make his speech. 
It was brief, simple and touching, and at certain por- 
tions of it women bowed their heads on the table and 
sobbed aloud. 

"My dear fellow citizens !" began the mayor. "At 
a moment when, after long and cruel trials, you step 
foot again upon the sacred soil of la Patrie, I come 
in the name of the city of Evian to address to you 
all a very cordial, a very warm and a very affection- 
ate welcome, 

"We know all that you have suffered. For many 
months convoys like yours have traversed our little 
village, and we have heard recounted each day the 
long martyrdom you have endured. We know that 
you have suffered cold and hunger; we know that 
your houses have been burned, that your rich har- 
vests have been destroyed and the beautiful industrial 
region of the north has been systematically de- 
stroyed; and, what is most terrible of all, we know 


that young daughters have been torn from the arms 
of their mothers and taken away to slavery in the 
Ardennes. And it is because we do know all this, 
dear fellow citizens, that we receive you to-day with 
all of our heart and with all of our soul ! 

"I said just now that you have suffered greatly, 
but your sufferings have not been alone physical; 
they have been also, and even above all, spiritual. 
You have suffered to be without news of those who 
are dear, and at not knowing exactly how things were 
going in free France. As for that which concerns the 
news of the war and of France I am going to tell you 
at once, in one word, that all you have read in Le 
Bruxellois and the Gazette des Ardennes is one tis- 
sue of lies, and that, thanks to the armies of France 
and her Allies, victory will finally crown our banners. 

"And now, courage, my dear fellow citizens ! Your 
long martyrdom is about to end. Soon you are going 
to hear, standing, our sacred hymn, which has not 
greeted your ears for so long a time, and meantime 
join me in an act of faith and hope in our well-beloved 
country, and shout with me: 'Vive la France immor' 
teller " 

The shout that followed was a shout indeed ! 

In closing, the Marseillaise was chanted, and by 
now all the audience was frankly in tears. A Red 
Cross doctor standing beside me cleared his throat. 

"I've seen this thing a dozen times," Jie observed, 
"and still I choke up every time |" 


Supper over the rapatries registered and passed 
to the rear to receive their letters. This letter room 
is a marvel of perfect arrangement. Here every in- 
quiry from anxious relatives is received, sorted alpha- 
betically, and a note of it filed on an index card as if 
it were a library book. Thus, when a refugee hands 
his registration card across the counter, all the girl 
standing behind has to do is to look him up in her 
index catalogue and see if he has any mail. 

Ah, those long moments of suspense while the girl 
is looking up a name! Those hundreds of greedy, 
outstretched hands across the counter ! Those faces, 
so schooled to endurance, twitching now with uncon- 
cealed excitement ! How slow the girl is ! "No, there 
is nothing for you." An outstretched hand drops 
from the counter. Those mutely borne disappoint- 
ments are horrible. 

Some of the tales of this famous letter room are 
harrowing, some humorous. There arrived one day 
in Evian a woman refugee, with four sons at the 
Front from whom she had not heard a single line in 
three years. Her excitement may be conceived. 
Were they all alive? Were some dead? Which? 
Impossible that all four should be preserved for three 
years. The thing was outside probability. For long 
months she had brooded over the chances, selected 
for death first one and then another of her sons. Per- 
haps all had been killed by this time, for she knew 
her sons were brave ! There was her youngest in par- 


ticular, a dashing daredevil in the Alpine Chasseurs 
— the pacemakers in every attack. Yes, undoubt- 
edly he had gone ! She must make up her mind to it. 
And so she did, and unmade it, a hundred times a 
day. When she arrived in Evian it was five in the 
afternoon, and before she stood at the mail counter, 
registry slip in hand, it was nine — four mortal hours 
of heart-piercing suspense, during which she had 
buried one, two, three, four of her sons, and resur- 
rected them again in a passion of hope. And now she 
was going to know! Yes, there was a letter for 
madame — two letters. Blindly she got herself out of 
the throng. The next moment there was a loud cry 
and she fell face down in a dead swoon. 

"And for two days," continued the doctor who told 
me the incident, "she raved with acute dementia." 

"Poor soul!" I said. "All four were killed? Her 
intuition was right." 

"Not a bit of it," laughed the doctor. "All four 
of 'em were not killed ! All four were alive and kick- 
ing. And that was the very trouble. It was a chance, 
of course, in a million. And winning that chance in 
the great lottery was too much for her. She had 
steeled herself for disaster. The strong shock of joy 
was a knock-out blow! But in a few days she was 
up and speeding on the way to her sons." 

What the American Red Cross is doing for the 
children in this situation may be grouped under two 
heads : First, immediate, temporary aid ; second, per- 


manent work. Whatever the French Government 
wishes in the way of personnel, equipment, drivers, 
and so on, to meet an urgent relief need, the Ameri- 
can Red Cross stands ready to deliver at an hour's 
notice. But — and this is important and not gener- 
ally understood— the French themselves must first 
express the desire, extend the invitation for aid. We 
are the guests; they are the hosts. And it is not 
the policy to rush in, take over the whole French 
problem, willy-nilly, and begin to run things off on 
brisk American methods. France has her national 
pride, like ourselves ; and it is her pride, even in this 
stress, to care for her own wherever she can. Such 
a course of procedure on the part of the Red Cross 
may mean a little more slowness at the outset; but 
it means a deeper and more sympathetic bond be- 
tween the two nations in the end — and in the end it is 
not less successful than the crude head-on attack. 
Thus in the Evian problem the French struggled for 
months to care for the thousands of refugees, and 
with a pitifully scant nursing and medical staff ac- 
complished marvels. Still, to make a complete medi- 
cal examination of every incoming rapatrie with sucK 
a staff would need a day of a hundred hours. And 
without such medical attention contagious diseases 
and epidemics were bound to creep into France, 
which, in fact, they did. 

When these defects were called to the attention 
of the French Government it at once frankly called 


for American aid. The same week a dozen ambu- 
lances and drivers, in charge of an American chef de 
service who had won distinction before Verdun, were 
dispatched to assist in the transportation. In pass- 
ing it should be said that the winter work of these 
Red Cross ambulance drivers upon the borders of 
that glacier lake, in an ice-box temperature, with a 
keen zero wind thrusting playful darts between the 
shoulder blades, deserves a special mention. It is 
not a spectacular service or, save for pneumonia 
microbes, especially dangerous. It is simply a 
plugging, monotonous grind in freezing isola- 

After the ambulances had been dispatched a group 
of medical specialists were sent out to study the prob- 
lem on the ground and suggest plans of permanent 
value. The result of their examination was the es- 
tablishment of a receiving hospital of one hundred 
beds in Evian to care for the sick ; a second hospital 
in Lyons for the chronic cases ; and still a third hos- 
pital on the Mediterranean for the tuberculosis pa- 

In addition to the hospitals, a clinic has been estab- 
lished right in the Casino itself, so that no child 
leaves the building without a medical examination. 
And these two agencies, the inside clinic and the out- 
side hospitals, render the situation, so far as the 
danger to the state is concerned, practically water- 
tight. For the clinic catches the small, microbe-rid- 


den victim and shoots him straight to the hospital, 
thus turning a secure lock upon the spread of disease. 
As is the case on the northern frontier, these chil- 
dren suffer chiefly from malnutrition, contagious skin 
diseases and tuberculosis. It has been estimated 
roughly that about ten per cent of the rapatries need 
hospital attention each day, and about one-third of 
that ten per cent are tuberculous. 

The hospital at Evian is as modern and complete 
in its child equipment as expert thought can achieve. 
At present there is a colony of about fifty workers 
on the ground. One phase of the hospital service, 
as the head nurse outlined it to me, is of especial 
educational value. 

"All of our nurses' aids, our auxiliaires, are French 
refugee girls," she explained. "This means prac- 
tically a training school for nurses. And when it is 
realized that the French nursing standards are as 
low as the French surgery standards are high the 
need for general instruction in this line becomes ap- 
parent. We shall teach these raw, untrained peasant 
girls simply the first principles of caring for the 
sick. But if we do no more than instill into them 
the fundamentals of cleanliness, convince them that 
all-over baths are not scandalous, that babies do not 
thrive on wine, that fresh air does not kill, that sheets 
should be changed slightly oftener than once a 
month, that pneumonia and tuberculous patients do 
not prosper in hermetically sealed rooms, and a few 


other modern, common-sense maxims, I for one shall 
be very content !" 

These hospitals for children, established in needy 
zones throughout all France as fast as may be, con- 
stitute one of the most effective and long-range 
pieces of work that the American Red Cross has un- 
dertaken, for they minister to the immediate want 
and at the same time strengthen permanently the gen- 
eral health tone of a nation. That the French ap- 
preciate our effort in this field is undoubted, and one 
of their statesmen has said that the impetus given by 
America to the conservation of child life in France 
is one of the most beneficial by-products of this great 


Hooray! Vive la belle France! I'm going to 
France ! I'm going to be a canteener ! Maybe I shall 
go right up to the Front just behind the first-line 
trenches and be under shell fire and be bombed by 
boche avions and hear the alerte and have to scurry 
to ahris and all that sort of thing. I don't know any 
of the details yet — nobody over here does — but any- 
how I'm going ! That's the chief thing. 

I'm so excited and thrilled I scarcely know what 
I'm doing, but outwardly I try to keep poised and 
calm, for mamma has been disappearing at intervals 
into her handkerchief ever since she gave her consent ; 
and as for papa, he doesn't say much; in fact, the 
dear old sport is quieter than ever — but I catch him 
looking at me, when he thinks I don't see, in a way 
that makes me realize I'm the only girl he's got down 
here below and that he'd never send me if he had a 
son to give. Not having a son and being a true-blue 
American with generations of fighting blood inside 
of him — for the man who said "Don't shoot until you 
see the whites of their eyes !" was my father's great- 



grandfather — he's figured it out that the best he can 
do is to send his girl instead. That's the ground 
of his consent. And mamma's a Daughter of the 
American Revolution, so that lets her out. 

It was pure accident — or fate — which made me run 
into Edith on the street a week ago to-day and thus 
start the wheels of destiny, 

"Come in and have some tea," she said after con- 
gratulating me on my engagement, which had just 
been announced, "and tell me all about it — and him. 
You deep little mouse — to pull this off right under 
everybody's nose and keep as secret as the grave! 
Who is he, anyhow?" 

"He's Major B , of the Fifty-blank Infantry. 

He's just received his majority and he's just twenty- 

"Major, eh? That's not so bad." 

"And, oh, Edith, he's leaving for France sometime 
this month, and I — I don't know what to do !" 

"What would you like to do?" asked Edie, laugh- 
ing a little at my blushes. 

"I'd like to go over there, too," I replied without 
hesitation, staring straight into her deep blue eyes. 
"It doesn't seem as if I could stand it — the long, long 
separation. Irregular letters. And when they go 
into action, not knowing, not hearing, maybe never 
hearing. Never. Just the silence!" 

"You're in the same fix as a million other Ameri- 
can women right now," replied Edith grimly. 


"And you've got to stand it. That's our job." 

"I know," I said heavily. "But it doesn't make 
your own toothache any better to know that there's 
an epidemic of toothache raging over the whole civi- 
lized world." 

Edith sat looking at me with a smile deep down 
in her eyes. She has been married three years, the 
first of our class ; and now she looks at the entire out- 
side world with that same air of tender smiling ab- 

"It's all part of the game," she said finally. "And 
we women must keep the flag flying. Jack" — Jack's 
her husband — "is going over next month. He doesn't 
have to, of course, being over the age limit. But he 
foresaw this two years ago, and went and prepared 
himself at Plattsburg. He wouldn't volunteer then 
on account of me and baby. But now the call has 
come it finds him ready. He feels the whole situation 
deeply. I'm glad." 

"Oh, Edie, you — brick !" I breathed, squeezing her 
hand hard. I thought of her left alone with her 
child — and not any too much money either. 

"Edie's all right," she murmured unsteadily, her 
blue eyes bright as diamonds. "Don't you fuss about 
her! But now about you — I have an idea. What 
can you do? Practically, I mean." 

"I've had a six-months' course in the hospital " 

"They don't take anything but graduate nurses 


" and I've had two years of domestic science 

and food values. Then last summer I operated a 
cafeteria in the suburbs for the Women's League- 
did all the buying and accounts myself. It was fun. 
In college I was head of the basket-ball team and the 
tramping club, and I've never been sick a day in my 

"How old are you?" 


"A bit young. However," said Edith briskly, ris- 
ing, "I'll see what I can do. There's just a bare 
chance — ^but I'm not going to tell you beforehand, 
for fear we burst the bubble. Run home now. Stick 
round the telephone. There may be a long-distance 
call. Put a few things into a bag while you're waiting. 
Do you think you could go on to New York to-night?" 

I suppose my eyes must have been as big round as 
saucers with excitement, for suddenly Edith bent 
right over and dropped a kiss on my cheek. "You 
darned little kid!" she whispered. "I know exactly 
how you feel. Now trot!" 

I trotted — ^walking on air. 

For the next two hours I hung round the landing 
where the telephone is, and finally settled down on 
the top stair. 

"For goodness' sake, child!" cried mamma, stum- 
bling over me as she came out of the sitting-room, 
'Vhat on earth are you doing here, all bunched up 
in the dark .?" 


T— I'm- 

Just then the telephone rang. I sprang to the re- 


Oh, I see!" said mamma, laughing as she went 

But she didn't. 

Central got the long-distance line cleared and then 
over the wire there came a woman's clear, crisp, busi- 
nesslike voice: "I wish to speak to Miss Carlotta 

"This is she." 

"Miss Murray, could you sail for France a week 
from Saturday?" 

My heart gave a sort of big thrilly jerk and I had 
a sudden shock as if my nerves had got short-cir- 

"Ye-yes !" I gulped faintly. 

"What? Speak louder." 

"Yes !" I shouted into the mouthpiece, holding on 
to the wall for support. "Dee-lighted !" 

"Very well. Be at our office at eleven to-morrow 
morning. You'd better come prepared to go straight 
on to Washington to arrange about your passes. 
Good-b " 

"Wait!" I cried excitedly. "Who is it speaking? 
I don't know who you are." 

"Red Cross Headquarters. New York office. 

She hung up and left me gasping in the darkness 


on the stair. Well, I was in deep over my head now ; 
and so I found mamma and put it straight up to her: 
Would she give her consent if papa did? At first she 
refused up and down, but by six o'clock I had her 
coaxed round to the point where she was packing my 
suitcase and making up lists of things I'd need in 
France — woolen underwear and galoshes and sweaters 
and first-aid outfits and what nots. And all the time 
we didn't either of us know what I was going to do 
when I got over there any more than the man in the 
moon. The call had tumbled right out of a clear 
sky. But once I'd got mamma to see the situation as 
it really was, outside her motherhood so to speak, 
she was as keen as mustard for it. 

We had dinner upstairs in my room. Delia served 
it on a tray. And when she heard I was sailing for 
France she just said, "Oh, my Gawd! Submarines !" 
and dropped the tray and burst into tears. You'd 
have thought the submarines were right under my 
bed. At that mamma broke down altogether and 
Delia embraced her — Delia's been with us ever since 
I was born — and there followed a hectic half hour. 
I was beginning to think Delia had spilled the beans 
for me with her "Oh, my Gawd !" when all of a sud- 
den mamma glanced at the clock, pulled herself to- 
gether and exclaimed sharply: 

"Good gracious, child, get into your clothes — 
quick ! Do you want to miss that train ? Delia, run 
down and phone for a taxi." 



Delia went, still dribbling tears and tomato bisque. 
Then mamma rushed off a telegram to Uncle Jim to 
meet me in New York, rushed me into my things, 
rushed me down to the station, through the gate, onto 
the train, gave me a swift breathless hug and de- 
parted. That's the way she is, all tears one second 
and a regular little whiz-bang field marshal the next. 
But it was some evening ! 

The next morning in New York Uncle Jim and I 
breakfasted at the Belmont, after which I walked 
over to Red Cross Headquarters, had an interview, 
and took the train to Washington. I had already 
wired papa, who was down there on business, to meet 
me, and told him to watch out for a life-size jolt. 
When I stepped off the train, there he was, leaning 
against a pillar and looking, as the novelists say, sin- 
gularly handsome and debonair. 

"Hello, Miss Murray!" he said, taking my bag 
away from the porter. "Now come on with your 

"Vive la France T^ I said by way of commencement. 

"Ha! So that's the bill of fare? With all my 
heart. May she vive forever. But what's that got 
to do with the price of winter umbrellas ?" 

"The Rochamheau sails a week from to-mor- 

"Well," said papa, still bluffing away, though I 
could see from the way he started that I had landed 
him one right over the heart, "I haven't any stock in 


her. The submarines may go as far as they like." 

"They want me to sail on her — as a canteener,'* 

"As a whatter?" demanded papa. 

**A canteener. A person that works in a canteen. 
You know — serves hot drinks and food and all to 
the soldiers." 

"Who wants you to go?" he growled in his Grossest 
cross-examining-witness manner. 

"President Wilson. God. American Red Cross. 
Mamma. Delia. Me." 

"Pretty good references," observed papa dryly. 
"Especially Delia. But not worth a single red cent 
in the present Instance — unless indorsed by me. Now 
let's get down to brass tacks. What is this all 

That's the way papa always talks with me, straight 
from the shoulder, just as if I were his law partner 
and we were threshing out a case. And so I told 
him. I told him how the high commissioner for Eu- 
rope of the American Red Cross had cabled to Wash- 
ington for women to be sent immediately to France to 
work in canteens ; how Washington had telegraphed 
to New York to collect a group of workers without 
delay ; how New York had telegraphed to Boston for 
names of suitable persons with training along that 
line ; how Edith, the president of her Red Cross chap- 
ter, had been called into council — and how that led 
to me. 

"It's the finger of destiny, papa," I wound up; 


"and it's pointed straight at me — ^like the man in 
the ad. There's just one hitch." 

"Only one.f^" observed papa with his grim httle 
half smile. 

"The cable says women over thirty." 

"Well," chuckled papa, "I guess that lets you out 
— for about six years anyhow. And by that time the 
war will be over. Though Bairnsfeather says that 
the first seven years will be the worst, and after that 
every fourteenth year." 

"I'm within the draft limit," I protested. "And if 
they take infants of twenty-one to be soldiers I don't 
see why a college graduate of twenty-four, captain 
of the basket-ball team and with a record in Greek, 
hasn't enough gumption to stand behind a counter 
and deal out sandwiches and coffee. It makes me 

"Well, all that's a minor matter," said papa, "It's 
fitness, not age or lack of it, that counts. But let's 
waive that for the moment and get down to the ker- 
nel of this proposition. Why are you interested in 
this thing? Why do you want to go — or think that 
you want to go? Now don't hand out any cheap 
sentimentality. Don't insult the cause by any tawdry 
emotionalism. Come clean. What are your rea- 
sons ?" 

Followed a conference — or moral examination, 
rather — which lasted for over four hours, straight 
through dinner, up to eleven o'clock; and still we 


sat on at table, papa smoking one cigar after an- 
other, until the big hotel dining-room was deserted 
and the lights went out. There was no question from 
the first of a downright refusal. He simply talked 
to me, eye to eye and man to man. He spoke as if 
I were his son, a soldier, going off to war, and he 
charted the cardinal points of conduct. He saw the 
thing big from the start, and I loved him for it. 
Then we talked about life and love and marriage, the 
rights of men and nations, and how this war was 
going to temper and fuse America like steel that's 
been through fire ; we talked about personal responsi- 
bility, the Red Cross, and he showed how any human 
institution rested straight back on the individual, so 
that if I fell down on my job the whole organization 
would feel the shock. He didn't give me a whole deca- 
logue of "Don'ts" to guide me over there, but he did 
give me three big "Do's." Here they are: 

Number One: Get round your own job and leave 
it to the other fellow to get round his. 

Number Two: Keep alive and lovable. Women, 
he said, are a little more apt than men to go to 

Number Three : Keep your sense of humor. 

Altogether, it was the best talk I've ever had on 
earth, and when it was done he kissed me? and then 
we sailed out arm in arm for some ice-cream soda at 
the corner drug store, and I treated him and he 
treated me — our immemorial custom. 


It was all settled the next morning that I was to 
go to war. They didn't even query my age ! 

That morning, after breakfast, papa said, "Guess 
I'll just walk over with you to that shebang of yours, 
in case you need identification." 

"No, you don't!" I said. "I'm going to get this 
on my own credentials — my cafeteria credentials ! — 
and not because I'm the daughter of Judge Murray, 
alias Old Silver Tongue. 'Get round your own job 
and leave it to the other fellow to get round his.' 
Axiom One." 

Papa grinned. "Strike one — right over the plate. 
All right. Let me hear what the jury decides." And 
we went our separate ways. 

At the office in the Women's Bureau it took less 
than ten minutes to get through the red tape and 
settle my future, as follows: I'm to be a canteen 
worker. I pay all my own expenses. And I literally 
do pay them, with my cafeteria money and a check 
I received for writing a movie. I've signed on for 
six months, during which time I can't marry an 
American army officer — without losing my job and 
getting sent home to America. Wow! For further 
orders report to Number Four, Place de la Concorde, 
Paris, France, seat of a world war for civilization. 
Think of it, oh, my soul ! Well, sink or swim, live or 
die, survive or perish, the Murray family gives its 
heart and its hand to this vote! 

The last week has been one mad, wild, excited 


scramble — with canteen uniforms, French lessons, 
gum boots, telephones, typhoid and paratyphoid in- 
jections, girls dropping in to say good-by, mamma 
dismal as a corbie crow weeping off in odd corners, 
and papa humming mournfully : " 'I didn't raise my 
kidlet to be a soldierette.' " 

On Tuesday night I said good-by to Robert. We 
dined together downtown and then Bob said, "Let's 
go round to Lucille's and dance." 

And so we did. But I just couldn't seem to put 
any spirit into it. 

"Do you realize, Bob," I said, "that this is our 
last dance together?" 

I suppose my voice sounded rather wabbly, for 
Robert gave me a sharp look and said, "Not on your 
life ! Where did you get hold of that notion ? Are 
you going to throw up the sponge?" 

And then I remembered that my case was exactly 
that of a million other women scattered all over the 
land, who were still keeping the flag flying, as Edith 
had said ; and so I bucked up and we finished up with 
a very good time. 

On Shipboard, November 12th. 
I begged papa and mamma not to come down to 
New York to see me off, but of course they would. 
However, it turned out all right. Papa blew us to 
a two-course dinner without wine downstairs in a 
famous grill frequented by successful actors and ar- 


tists and writers, after which he packed us off to a 
musical comedy and kept up a light artillery of jokes 
all through the evening, and we both laughed so hard 
that mamma finally lost patience and declared we 
were a perfect scandal. There was just one awful 
moment at the last. That was on the boat when papa 
gave me a big still hug and then held his cheek close 
to mine the way he's done ever since I was a baby. 

"Papa," I whispered fiercely into his ear, "if you 
make me cry now I'll kill you !" 

"Shucks, honey!" he murmured back. "If Miss 
Rankin can cry in Congress I guess a green little 
soldierette can shed a few tears when bidding a fond 
farewell to native land and mother, without grave 
dishonor. Still, I don't want to cramp your style. 
Cable us when you land. Be a good girl — but not 
goody. And now, so long, dear. God bless us all 
together !" 

And still smiling and steady he shook hands with 
me just as if I were his son, and then marched 
mamma, sobbing audibly, gently off by the arm. I 
went downstairs to my cabin. 

No danger of my being sick. My bunk mate is ! 
I hardly know how to describe my feelings after we 
had really started and there was time to look about — 
it all seemed so sort of natural and matter-of-fact, 
and France still merely a small pink dab on the map. 
It wasn't a bit startling to be out of sight of land 
and hear people discussing submarines and lifeboats, 


but it was a horrible sensation to have the boat 
plunge down and leave your stomach In midair. A 
gorgeous sunset to-night, but it's rough and going 
to be rougher, I fear. I walked about some, and then 
decided discretion was the better part of valor and 
retired to my deck chair. 

November 15th. 
Three awful days in my cabin, too sick to stir. 
But to-day it's smooth and the air is marvelous. 
After a fine salt bath I came up and pranced about 
the deck ; and there were lots of nice people to prance 
with — naval officers, Belgian generals, French per- 
missionnaires, and any number of Y. M. C. A.-ers and 
Red Cross men. Played shuffleboard; tried the din- 
ing-room for ten minutes, and then decided to have 
all my meals on deck in order to watch for the sub- 

November 24th. 
Land is in sight — a long low ribbon of mist away 
on the starboard. That's France! It still doesn't 
seem reasonable. The trip has been nothing at all. 
Evenings we would sit out on deck. It was weird with 
never a light, even cigarettes forbidden; inky black- 
ness on deck, and stumbling and pitching into some- 
one at every step. It was awesome from the stern 
to see two big black funnels silhouetted against the 
starry sky, the phosphorescence of the water rivaling 


the splendor of the heavens ; and to realize that all 
the time this huge mechanical monster beneath our 
feet was plowing steadily, silently forward, carry- 
ing seven hundred human lives across three thousand 
miles of water. 

Paris, November 26tK. 
Paris af last, beautiful, soft, gray, in a blur of 
rain. I reported at Number Four, Place de la Con- 
corde, heard a speech by the commissioner, and was 
assigned right away. It's just exactly what I wanted 
and didn't dare to dream I'd get ! I'm to work in a 
canteen in one of the biggest aviation camps in 
France. With our own American men! We'll live 
in barracks, get up at reveille, five-thirty a.m., 
and — — But I'm somewhat hazy as to our duties. 
Time will reveal. After the conference I met Lucile 

B , a Bryn Mawr girl, and found she's to canteen 

with me at the same barracks. We embraced and 
nearly fell downstairs in our excitement. Lucile has 
moved her things over to my hotel so we can chum to- 

November 27th. 
Slept — off and on — ^^and Ea'd a breakfast in bed, 
after the luxurious Continental fashion, — wouldn't 
Delia sniff? — and then I read Baedeker's Paris aloud 
while Lucile unpacked. We lunched and did accounts 
and then walked over to Red Cross Headquarters. 


After reporting there we got our provisional car3s 
of identity and went down to a shop on the boule- 
vard and ordered bracelets of identity. Had my hair 
washed by a poilu on permission and tried out my 
Boston French on him. He understood me better 
than I did him ! Later Lucile and I taxied over to 
Napoleon's tomb, saw the German airplanes in the 
court of the Invalides, and then went on to Notre 
Dame. It is wonderful inside, so high and spacious 
and old and gray, with a scented misty twilight air as 
though dimmed by many prayers. I made two pray- 
ers myself — one personal, and the other impersonal 
for our army, and I only hope they come true. 

November 28th. 
While waiting to be sent to camp I delved into the 
subject of canteens in general. And I found that the 
old canteen idea is as different from the new canteen 
idea as day is from night. A canteen before this war 
meant simply a place where a soldier could buy a 
drink and perhaps procure notions, buttons and 
needles and thread. But that old idea has expanded 
and developed until now it really comprises a whole 
welfare center, a regular community plant for dis- 
pensing food and comfort and good cheer. There 
are restaurants, writing rooms, infirmaries, sleeping 
quarters, pianos, phonographs, entertainments — 
everything you can possibly think of to keep a col- 
lection of men far from home happy and sane and 


sound. Of course not all these canteens are alike, for 
each one caters to some particular need and thus 
develops along a particular line. Its location deter- 
mines its special bent. 

There are, I was told at headquarters, several 
types of canteen. 

Number One : These are the metropolitan canteens 
of Paris, situated at the big railway stations — the 
Gare du Nord, the Gare de I'Est and the Gare Saint 
Lazare — which catch all the troops coming into or 
leaving the city. 

Number Two: These are the canteens of the 
Grande Ceinture, at little stations on the environs of 
Paris, where innumerable troop trains pass through 
daily, carrying thousands of soldiers from England, 
Italy, America, Saloniki, Portugal, Africa. These 
troops never even enter Paris, but are shifted on the 
outskirts of the city. 

Number Three: Canteens in the French war zone 
behind the actual fighting lines in the big transpor- 
tation centers. 

Number Four: Canteens right on the French 
Front, in dugouts and abris. In these canteens there 
are no women helpers. 

Number Five : Canteens in the American training 
camps, behind the war zone. That's the kind I'm as- 
signed to. It's the biggest American aviation center 
in France. 

Number Six: Canteens for American soldiers 


dotted along the lines of communication from the 
coast ports to the final training centers. All these 
canteens are under the control of the American Red 

December 1st. 

In barracks ! Yesterday was my first day. I got 
up in the dark at bugle call, five-thirty a.m., and 
dressed in the cold — our stoves are not up yet and I 
don't know who's going to start the fires when they 
are ! — ^had some hot coiFee and went over to serve be- 
hind the counter, serving coffee, chocolate and sand- 
wiches. A long queue of soldiers stood in line 
straight through the morning, and, work as hard as I 
could, the line constantly augmented. Some wanted 
to linger and chat. It was good, they said, to see a 
real live American girl who could talk God's lan- 
guage, and not that scrambled-egg affair the French- 
ies handed out. One confided he'd not seen a genuine 
honest-to-goodness girl for four months; since he'd 
left home, and added that he liked 'em on the Ameri- 
can plan better than on the European plan. I 
couldn't do much more than smile in answer, for the 
orders flew thick and fast. 

By noon the place was so crowded you couldn't see 
for the forest of campaign hats. A babel of voices ; 
a rattle of dishes ; the phonograph going ; the piano 
banging; a bunch of enlisted men trying out Mine 
Eyes Have Seen the Glory ; canteeners running back 


and forth with meals for the officers, whose tables 
were in behind the counter ; rain trickling down my 
neck from an overhead leak; sleet and windy rain 
shaking the windowpanes ; sneezes and coughs ming- 
ling with shouts of laughter; and always the far door 
opening to let in the storm and still more and more 
men, till they were packed like sardines in rows — 
these are my impressions of that first noon hour. 

Suddenly: ''Otto, Sie hahen etwas vergessen!" I 
heard a low guttural voice speaking close behind my 

"/«, ich weiss,'* replied another. 
I whirled, visions of spies, explosions and poisoned 
soup rushing wildly through my brain. 

"What's this?" I cried. "German? In an Ameri- 
can aviation camp? What are you two doing here?" 
They stared at me stupidly. One held a mop and 
the other held a broom. Of course they were spies ! 
"You are Germans— Deutsche I challenged again, 
sure that I had uncovered a regular Guy Fawkes 

"Ja," admitted the one called Otto, and jerked 
a thick dirty thumb toward his working blouse, on 
the chest of which was inscribed in big black letters 
"P G" with a slim little "i" between, so that it read 

"Pig!" I said wonderingly. 

A soldier across the counter came to my aid. 
"Prisoners of war," he explained briefly. "P, Q, 


stands for prisonnier de la guerre. Some joker 
slipped the middle "i" over onto him. And it's not 
so far wrong at that! Look at the beggars' fat 
jowls. They help round the camp, unloading trucks, 
scrubbing up the barracks, and so on. For obvious 
reasons they're not allowed in the kitchens. They 
have their own quarters behind barbed-wire entan- 
glements — ^but you just bet they don't try very hard 
to get away. This is better than machine-gun fire." 

"Are they good workers?" 

"Not so you'd notice — but they make up by being 
fine eaters. You should see them tuck away the grub 
that Uncle Sam sends three thousand miles across 
the sea to feed his Allies. I reckon they figure that 
the more they eat the less there'll be for the enemy, 
and there's more than one way of killing a cat. The 
French are too easy on them, and that's the fact." 

In the afternoon things went easier for a while. 
As it was still raining we had mess in the canteen and 
then sat and made up jam sandwiches. Along about 
five another tremendous rush began. I was put on the 
marmites. These are big urns of coffee which are 
constantly filled and refilled from the boiling-hot 
vats on the stove. It is heavy, dirty, back-breaking 
work, and inside of an hour my clean blue blouse and 
spotless collar looked as though I had slid down a 
chimney. And my hands — was I ever proud of these 
red, chapped, grubby-nailed horrors? Nota bene: 
If you love to be dainty, don't be a canteen maid. 


At nine-thirty p.m. we closed, and I was so dead 
tired that I tumbled into bed and unlaced mj boots 
by the feel. The first shift is from seven a.m. until 
four P.M., and the second from noon to nine-thirty 
P.M. But some of the workers are down with severe 
colds, their substitutes have not yet arrived, and that 
means double duty for the rest. From five in the 
morning until nine at night is some day's job, believe 
me! You have to be hardened before you can stand 
the pace. A delicate girl would crumple up inside 
of a week. Of course when we get organized and a 
system blocked out things will move more smoothly. 
At present we're a brand-new plant. 

December 5th. 

Superb aviation weather ! For the past week it's 
been blowing, hailing, raining, snowing, thawing, and 
then beginning all over again da capo with unabated 
zeal, like a child with only one tune. Water over- 
head and slush underfoot. Colds, pneumonia, tonsil- 
litis, dipththeria, grippe-— these are the enemies our 
soldiers have to face and conquer or be conquered by, 
every single day. And yet, despite the hostile 
weather, the men go up for practice just the same. 
And thus far only one death. 

Our stoves are up. The P. G.'s have put them in 
every room. No more rising in the dark in freezing 
temperature and washing in the water from your hot- 
water bottle. And we've appointed a fireman to build 


the fires. We're to take the job week about. As 
there's no water laid on in our barracks yet, we've 
had also to appoint a water bearer to keep the jugs 
filled and on the fire. Each morning the P. G.'s swab 
down the green linoleum floors of our quarters fresh 
and clean — and inside an hour they are caked with 
real estate. Entire town lots come away with our 

This morning when I went over to the canteen the 
cook had not shown up. And in front a long line of 
waiting doughboys stood, beating a hungry tattoo 
on the counter. What to do? Of course we could 
have turned them out while we rounded up another 
cook, but that's not what we're here for. "Get round 
your job," said Axiom One, and feeding these men 
was it. So I went into the kitchen. A soldier vol- 
unteered his aid. And all through the morning hours 
we two worked like firemen at a ten-story fire. Bacon 
and eggs, repas complet; we cooked and cooked and 

In the afternoon as a change I was assigned to go 
on a camion to the neighboring farms and collect 
butter, eggs, vegetables and fruit. It was lowering 
when we set forth, with a raw chill wind that blew 
every way at once, and presently the air turned black 
and the water came down like a waterspout out of the 
sky. Nevertheless we completed our circuit. It was 
twilight when we returned. I went into the canteen 


"Well, he's been and gone!" a chorus of voices 

"Who?" I inquired, catching my breath. They 
tossed me a card and a note. 

It was Bob ! He had got a day's leave unexpect- 
edly and he spent four hours of it coming down to 
see me, found me gone, and spent another four get- 
ting back again. He'd sent a wire last night, but 
of course it hadn't reached me. I suppose it will 
arrive the morning after eternity and rout me out 
of bed! 

I went back to quarters feeling pretty blue. There 
were little zigzags of fiery pain running up and down 
my neck from bending so long over the stove; my 
skirts were sopping; and my feet in their heavy boots 
with their excess acreage of mud were so heavy I 
could scarcely drag them after me. I opened the 
door upon a cozy scene. Lucile was making tea. 
She had lifted the lid of the small fat-bellied stove in 
the center of the room, and with a long fork she was 
toasting the nubbins of war bread down over the live 
coals. Somebody strange was sitting in our one easy- 

"Come in," cried Lucile, "and shut that door! 
Here's a lady from 'The Saturday Evening Post'; 
she's come down to look at the animals in the 

"Well, what do you think of us?" I asked. 

"I think," she replied, looking first at Lucile bend- 


ing over the stove, then round at the bare board walls 
hung thick with mackintoshes and storm skirts, at 
the shelves containing each girl's toilet articles, at 
the cots ranged along the sides covered with dark 
army blankets, at the trunks standing everywhere, at 
a leak in the roof from which the rain was decanting 
with a steady tap-tap onto my pillow, and finally 
back at Lucile again — **I think it's a cross between 
a girls' boarding house, an East Side tenement and a 
Western mining shack. And I think you girls are 
ripping to rough it like this !" 

"Pooh!" said Lucile, taking up her banjo and be- 
ginning to strum. "We love the hardships. Of 
course a weakling couldn't stand the racket. You 
have to be sound through and through, or sooner or 
later it gets you. In a month or so, though, we're 
going to have enlarged quarters, and then two girls 
will have a cubby-hole to themselves and we'll be rid of 
all this clutter. Also we're going to start an officers' 
club where we serve hot meals to the aviators ; in the 
same building will be recreation rooms, and just out- 
side a garden and a tennis court. Then we'll be 
grand luxe! As yet we're still in the making, like 
creation on the fourth day." 

"How do you keep clean?" the visitor wanted to 

"You don't," I said grimly. "Look! But since 
Lucile has bought a rubber bathtub we manage a 
bath once in a while." 


"She thinks our boots are funny," said Lucile. 

"She wouldn't think they were quite so funny if she 
had had to oil them and keep them clean. You should 
have seen mine the other day when I slipped and fell 
in front of the post-office. I thought the whole camp 
and the hangars and the flying field were coming right 
along with me like the top of a layer cake. I give 
you my word, for a second I was afraid to move my 
feet for fear I'd lift the town." 

The lady rose to go. Lucile went over to her trunk 
and got her diary, which the lady had asked to see. 
After some debate I gave her mine, too. I only hope 
she uses discretion! 

December 11th. 

Dazzling sunshiny weather. I counted seventeen 
planes up. Got back my diary. The lady said she 
read it in bed and whooped so over some of the pas- 
sages that we could have heard her clear out to camp, 
it was the parts where I told what I thought about 
men. She swore, though, she wouldn't use them; 
and I hope she keeps her word ! Worked at the mar- 
mites in the forenoon and behind the counter in the 
afternoon. Right in the middle of the rush, when I 
was pushing hot chocolate and sandwiches across the 
counter as fast as my two hands could fly, I suddenly 
heard a voice say: "One coffee, please — and step 

It was Robert! I was so busy that there was no 


time then for more than a handshake. After Robert 
had squeezed my hand he turned it over in his palm 
and stared steadily down at it, all chapped and rough 
and red. I cut my thumb yesterday, and the 
bandage was ragged and coifee-stained. Altogether, 
not a hand that you'd enter at a beauty show. But 
Bob only said **Bully little flapper!" and couldn't 
seem to let go of it. Then for an hour he helped me. 
He'd got another leave, he said, and thought he'd 
try my camp again. 

At four I went off duty and the directrice lent us 
her sitting-room, where we had tea together and — 
well, sort of caught up on arrears. Afterward we 
strolled about the camp in the early twilight and 
came by the post-office for the mail. Robert and I 
stood off at one side and watched the soldiers hurry- 
ing from all directions like ants converging upon 
that one radiant doorway of warm streaming light. 
The board walks resounded to their footsteps. On 
and on they came, some on the dead run. It was 
weird to see those figures suddenly evolve out of the 

"And that's not all," said Robert. "This one 
camp with its thousands of men is the epitome of 
scores of other camps over here, where at this twi- 
light hour exactly the same performance is taking 
place — thousands on thousands of lonesome soldiers 
hastening, with eagerness in their hearts, to get that 
word from home. That's one end of the line. At the 


other end are the girls and wives and mothers at 
home writing those letters with cheerfulness and 
faith — thousands of Susie Smiths and Mamie 
Joneses! A Whitman could make a fine poem out 
of that, naming every girl and her town. And be- 
tween those two ends so far apart is the big invisible 
rope of love. They talk about the necessity of guns 
and effectives, but, by George, if they lived in one 
of these god-forsaken little villages behind the Front 
they'd realize that it's the guns plus the letters of the 
Susie Smiths and Mamie Joneses which are going to 
win this war!" 

December 20th. 

Robert left that same night, and ever since I've 
been laid up with tonsillitis — the first time I've been 
ill in my life. It was a splendid opportunity to think 
— only there wasn't anything to think about. That's 
the bother with this war — it kills thought. But I 
kept the fires up and the big jugs heating for the 
baths, and cleaned the girls' boots, and talked with 
the P. G.'s, and indexed our new library, and counted 
the flies on the wall, and made the tea every after- 
noon. Nevertheless I could feel my brain begin to 
disintegrate with idleness. That's the worst trouble 
with the soldiers in the trenches — nothing to do. It 
gives them the cafards, the black butterflies, the blue 
devils, the jimjams, the hump. 


Christmas Day. 

Raining again, slowly but surely. However, I'm 
on my job again — in waders ; and with three pairs of 
heavy woolen stockings underneath. These frame 
buildings just can't help but leak, and they always 
want to leak wherever the back of your neck is. To- 
day we gave out Red Cross Christmas boxes to all 
the soldiers and cadets and officers. You should have 
seen the rush! Men who at home were used to re- 
ceiving from their fathers a six-cylinder car as a gift 
and then remarking casually "Oh, thanks awf'lly, old 
chap !" came crowding up for those boxes, as eager 
as kids for tin horns. And there was no put-on about 
it. They wanted their Christmas presents ! 

After a full day we had mess — turkey ! — ^with some 
of the officers, and then half a dozen of us went over 
to the Y. M. C. A. hut to see the movies. We sat in 
the front row — six women among five hundred men. 
These evening entertainments are a great boon. And 
the shows are so well attended that they have to give 
two performances each night. Later we danced, over- 
shoes and all. After that we tramped over to the 
barracks of the P. G.'s to see their Christmas tree. 
Altogether it was a strange Christmas. Where shall 
we be this time next year? All those solid husky 
youngsters who filled the hall with their jolly laugh- 
ter? All these slim young aviators with their bud- 
ding mustaches and their straight, keen, fearless eyes ? 
What has 1918 in store for us? 


December 31st. 

IVe been transferred ! There was a call for more 
workers at a certain canteen, and so some of us 

were shifted round. Now I am at X , which is a 

canteen on the environs of Paris, of Number Two 
Type. Here thousands of troops pass through each 
day from all parts of France, carrying the Allied 
man power for redistribution upon every Front. Oc- 
casionally soldiers lie over a few hours while new 
trains are being made up, but usually they go straight 
through, with a ten-minutes' stop for food. Some- 
times the men have traveled from thirty-six to forty- 
eight hours without a bite to eat. Thus our chief 
work is upon the platforms or quais, distributing hot 
coffee, chocolate and sandwiches. The heavy rushes 
come between six and eight in the morning, at noon, 
and once more at dusk. Often there will be trains on 
two tracks at the same time, one full of grim, silent 
troops bound for the Front, the other filled with jolly 
permissionnaires going home on leave. There is a 
sharp contrast of mood between those two trainloads 
of Frenchmen, so close together upon those narrow 
parallel tracks. The incoming ones face home and a 
brief spell of happiness ; the outgoing ones face — an- 
other year! And the unending weariness of it, the 
bitter black nostalgia, is to be read in those black 
eyes straining out at you from the windows. 

Thie is to-day's record — my first day here : I rose 
and was on the quai by six-thirty. It was dark, and 


the cold was appalling. It had been snowing, and 
a high wind slapped icy particles against my cheek. 
The pavement of the quaiy where it was not covered 
with snow, was caked with dirty, slippery ice so that 
one had to step gingerly for fear of accident. My 
feet were freezing, despite the customary three pairs 
of stockings and heavy boots. 

"You'll have to get some clogs," said a white-haired 
American worker beside me. "Look !" She lifted her 
skirts and I beheld thick wooden-soled boots — sabots 
with leather tops. "Sweet, aren't they.? But better 
than frozen feet!" 

The train was late. The marmites of boiling hot 
coffee stood waiting by the track, each with its 
padded flannel jumper to keep the contents hot. The 
basket of ham sandwiches, apples and Camembert 
cheese were covered with oilcloth as protection from 
the wet. The workers, some Americans, some French, 
in blue blouses and veils, swathed to the eyes in their 
mantles, huddled in the sheltered lee of the station 
and stamped their feet and swung their arms to keep 
warm. Those drafty quais in the raw dawns are the 
native heath of pneumonia microbes. 

Suddenly the captain of the gave blew his whistle. 

"Here she comes !" cried the white-haired American, 
and seized her coffee cart and started down the track. 
The rest of us followed with sandwiches. The long 
train slowed to a halt. Snow piled high upon the 
roofs of the cars ; snow upon the steps and vestibules ; 


icicles dripping from the eaves — and nobody de- 
scended! Not a move or a stir. It looked like a 
specter train. 

'^Cafe! Cafe, messieurs! Descendez, messieurs! 
You have ten minutes !" 

It was the gay voice of a little French canteener 
as she ran from car to car, tapping on the window- 
panes. And then — ^bang ! Some of the windows were 
let down, heads began to poke out, and tin cups 
stained with pinard appeared at the end of arms. 

"No, no, messieurs. Descend if you please. You 
have time. And we can't wait on you all up there. 
Ah, you little monster" — this to a big giant who sud- 
denly loomed above — "come down from that window. 
The coffee is good and hot !" 

That cheerful, laughing voice, so absolutely French 
in its intonations, roused the silent train. And then 
thej^ came pouring out like a cloudburst and almost 
mobbed the coffee machine. Hundreds of hands and 
cups were under the faucet at once. 

''Dix centimes J messieurs! Dix centimes, n*est-ce 

The little mademoiselle shook her tin cup, and the 
sous rattled into it — but still the men did not speak. 
They drank their beloved scalding hot beverage in 
silence. The snow fell steadily, tipping their mus- 
taches, the visors of their kepis, the edges of their 
coats — with a powder of white, like silhouettes. And 
still they uttered no word ! Remember, it is the day 


before New Year's — a day dear to every French- 
man's heart — and these men were returning to the 
Front. The whistle blew. 

"En voiture!" 

The circle of hands about the coffee machine melted 
as if by magic. The train sucked them inw And still 
not a single word had been spoken! I turned, that 
strange grim muteness of a voluble warm-hearted race 
sinking into my heart. I turned, and the spell was 
broken. I heard a young French voice. It was a 
soldier, who at the risk of losing his train had lin- 
gered to thank the white-haired canteener for filling 
his coffee cup. She was down on her knees in the 
snow, decanting the last drop of precious liquid from 
the machine. Her white hair was powdered still 
whiter with shining crystals. Her face streamed with 
perspiration and was rosy from exertion. 

"Ah, madame," said the soldier, "it is the sym- 
pathy and courage of women like you that give us 
strength to go on with this dirty war !" 

She did not understand a word of his rapid lingo, 
but she patted his arm and smiled. Each compre- 
hended the other ! The next instant the train was a 
rushing shadow on the blinding white landscape. 

And then before we could draw breath or refill our 
marmites another train was upon us. This time it 
was permissionnaires returning home. They hopped 
out like joyous schoolboys, with a fusillade of teas- 
ing banter. 


"Aha! 'Tis the pretty little Americans! Say! 
You are all right, you know, you Americans !" 

"I have an American marraine. Will you be my 
marraine, mademoiselle? You don't know how nice 
I am ! Not 'naughty boy' !" 

"Look! Ham sandwiches ! My, God, we're in Par- 
adise !" 

They bought out the apple basket and had apple 
fights. And while we were rushing the growlers cross- 
tracks for more coffee they marched up and down 
arm in arm and chanted in our honor a trench ditty 
about a new relative they've acquired. The chorus, 
loosely translated, runs hke this : 

« 9 

Tis my Uncle Sam, Sam, Sam! 

He is a fine copain* 

He comes from AmSrique. 

The terror of the German, 
'Tis my Uncle Sam, Sam, Sam! 

He is sympathique. 

The great Repuhlicain. 

The met or y of demain, 
'Tis to Uncle Sam, Sam, Sam!" 

And when at length the train pulled out, heads were 
thrust from the windows, cups and kepis were waved, 
and a rousing ''Vive V AmSrique!'' floated back to us. 
For these men were going home, 

* Pal. 


January 4, 1918. 

Aside from the work on the quais we also run a 
canteen in behind the station, where we serve meals 
to the men obliged to wait for their trains. In ad- 
dition next month we intend to start a buffet counter 
right on the tracks, where the hungry soldier pass- 
ing through with only ten minutes at his command 
may obtain a solid meal of soup, meat, vegetables and 
coffee. The benefit of this kind of service to troops 
traveling, sometimes in open cattle cars, a day and 
a night without food, can never be estimated. 

In our canteen we feed all the sons of earth — even 
German prisoners. Yesterday was our banner day. 
We began with some English from the Royal Flying 
Corps. Then followed in rapid succession Alpins 
Chasseurs ; a company of Arabs, whose French officer 
had a tiny baton with which he waved them in and 
out and set them down to table like children in a 
row ; Senegalese ; Annamites ; American negroes ; Ca- 
nadians; Hindus; Chinese; Portuguese; and train 
upon train of French and American troops. We 
were so rushed in the cluttered and cramped little 
kitchen that we had to establish a sort of bucket 
brigade to pass the food forward to the men. 

Our cook, a mountain of jelly, is almost the ugliest 
woman in France; and her husband, a cross-eyed, 
bandy-legged little ogre, is certainly the ugliest man. 
And yet each considers the other a perfect paragon 
of beauty. Leonie brags about her handsome mart; 


and Andre chants the praises of his exquisite "petit 
angcy** and they nod and smile and coo endearing 
compliments to each other among the pots and pans. 
By profession Andre is a sexton, and it is only in his 
off hours, when he is not sweeping the church or bury- 
ing the dead, that he consents to grace our kitchen 
with his Apollolike form. 

Besides serving food, a canteen of this description 
is a sort of emergency bureau where almost anything 
may turn up. Buttons are sewn on, wounds ban- 
daged, cough medicine administered, letters written 
home, and general physical and moral good cheer 
kept on tap day and night. After the great Italian 
debacle, when thousands of French troops were being 
rushed down, our canteeners worked twenty-four 
hours at a stretch upon these icy quais. The emer- 
gency came in a minute, and they had to handle it in 
a minute. And the food they served was all the food 
those famished troops received. No time to halt and 
feed hungry mouths, with the Prussians battering 
down the gates of Italy ! At another canteen, farther 
south, a trainload of French wounded came through 
from Italy. And the canteeners flew aboard with 
food, bandages and first-aid appliances, and in the 
brief time allotted transformed those starving, un- 
tended sufferers. 

The other day a bunch of Montana cow punchers 
tramped into the canteen, and when the leader — a 
loose, lank, lean giant of seven feet nothing — saw the 


American flag he took off his hat and said, "Thank 
Gawd, boys, we're found — at last. We're home." 

It turned out that in the shift of trains they had 
somehow got separated from their detachment, and 
for over two days they had wandered about the 
frozen little town, without a word of French, without 
money — for they had not yet received their pay — and 
consequently without lodging or food. 

"But why on earth don't you ask for something 
to eat ?" I exclaimed. "You're nothing but great big 
sillies !" 

The leader drew himself up proudly. "I reckon 
we warn't going to let none of them fly Frenchies get 
onto our little private plight and give us the merry 
ha-ha — was we, boys?" 

"Not by a dern sight !" agreed the strayed maver- 
icks stoutly. 

We fitted them out with food, postals, an English- 
French dictionary, some French money with written 
instructions as to its value, and steered them on their 

Yesterday I had an experience of still another sort. 
It was in the middle of a bleak afternoon, and the can- 
teen was empty. I was sitting in the kitchen by the 
stove, making up the baskets for the evening rush on 
the quais — so many slices of ham, so many apples, 
so many pieces of cheese — when the far door opened, 
an American soldier drifted in, leaned over the buffet 
for a time, and finally with a strong Texas drawl 


said : "I wish you'd write me a letter, ma'am — to my 

"What's the matter with your writing it yourself?" 

"I don't know exactly what to say. It's dog-gone 
delicate, and that's a fact. You see, I got a bad die- 
ges-tion." He pronounced it as if it were three 
words, with a heavy stress on the "die." 

"But you don't write with your die-ges-tion." 

"No; but it's this way, ma'am. My wife, she's 
went and divorced me. And it's all along of my bad 
die-ges-tion. I don't blame her no way. I reckon 
that bad die-ges-tion did sort of get between her and 
me. But that ain't what I aim to say in the letter. 
It's about this here new insurance. I've made mine 
out in her name." 

"But if she's divorced you on account of your bad 
die-ges-tion she has no claim on you now." 

"I don't give a whoop in hell about that," he re- 
sponded soberly. "I want her to get it, that's all. 
And I kind of thought maybe you might fix it up for 
me in a letter, so's she'd understand, and tell her I 
don't bear no grudge. I got a bad die-ges-tion." 

And so I fixed it up for him in a letter ; and there's 
one woman in America who has lost a man with a 
mighty good heart even if he has a bad die-ges-tion. 

January 10th. 
Transferred again. But this time I'm settled for 
good. This is a canteen of Type Number Three, in 


the French war zone, in a big transportation center 
within sound of the guns of Verdun. Anywhere from 
three to ten thousand troops pass through daily. 
Here again, this canteen is absolutely different from 
the two others, because the conditions are different. 
It is a canteen which the French call grand luxe. A 
beautiful spacious building, given by the French 
Government; tastefully decorated interiors; rest 
rooms with papers, writing materials, piano, tables 
and easy-chairs; restaurant; sleeping quarters, 
hot baths ; gardens with statuary ; and ahris in 
case of aerial attack — altogether the poilu's de- 

**Tres chic, hein?^* murmurs the Frenchman. He 
stares about him at the clean airy place, gay with 
chintz curtains, painted garlands on the walls, and 
even the electric globes veiled with soft yellow Chinese 
silk. And he catches the idea at once. "Pas mili- 
taire, pas du tout du tout,'' That's it exactly. It's 
not military at all at all. The French artist who 
conceived the scheme was so nauseated with every- 
thing military that he let himself loose on this can- 
teen to make it cozy and homelike and gay. Its soft 
beauty delights the poilu ; and its baths, its disinfect- 
ing plants where he can rid himself of vermin, its 
kiosk where he can buy his beloved pinard, its hot 
chocolate — made with milk, after an American recipe 
■ — contribute to make it a very paradise of canteens. 
Its fame is known all over the French war zone. The 


poilus come miles to see if it's as good as report. 
At night in the rest room thej lie outstretched in 
those canvas easy-chairs — ^just how easy none but a 
weary poilu can know!— and they stare through 
dreamy half-closed eyes at the warm charm of the 
place, soaking it in at every pore; the smoke of 
countless cigarettes rises in a kind of enchanted mist ; 
there is an occasional bubble of laughter or the low- 
toned give-and-take of copains round the brazier ; but 
chiefly there is silence, luxurious well-earned ease for 
tired limbs — linked sweetness long drawn out. Oc- 
casionally, when the wind is right, a vague distant 
rumble seems to echo in the air. Is it thunder, or is 
it bombardment? Or are those ears so accustomed to 
the ceaseless roar of heavy artillery that they still 
hear it resounding, even in this quiet spot.? A poilu 
rolls over, opens one eye, listens. 

"What is that? Les canons?" 

His companion cocks an ear. 

*'Mais non,'* 

*'Mais oui" 

"You're crazy! Whence, then?" 

The first soldier sits up and takes his bearings. 

" 'Tis Verdun," he proclaims. ''N'est-ce pas, 

"Yes," replies the canteener at the desk ; "we can 
often hear the guns of Verdun on a thick night." 

"Me — I come from Verdun," says the poilu, al- 
ways ready for a chat. 


"Were you one of those who held Verdun when the 
Crown Prince made that terrible attack?" 

"Ah, those glorious heroes of Verdun!" murmurs 
the canteener with misty eyes. 

The simple poilu looks at her, puzzled, angry, and 
finally blazes forth: 

"Heroes ! Heroes ! I'm always hearing about 
those people — those heroes. But I never saw any- 
thing of them. They weren't in the fight. I tell you, 
it was we, we Frenchmen alone, who won Verdun !" 

The canteener apologizes tathe unconscious hero. 

In a canteen of this description, serving anywhere 
from three to ten thousand men a day, the work must 
be organized down to its last detail. And it is. The 
mechanism runs as smoothly as a well-oiled auto- 
mobile. For one thing, our directrice has a "flair" 
for handling people, for getting along with the 
French domestics — we have a kitchen staff alone of 
twenty — and for making her workers contented and 
at home. Nor is the work itself so hard as in the 
other canteens. For one thing, labor is plentiful. 
For another, we live in a town. And in our time off 
we can shop or stroll or laze about the comfortable 
big house we've leased for quarters. Our hours, too, 
are well arranged. As the canteen remains open all 
night and meals are served straight round the clock, 
the day is divided into four shifts: From seven a.m. 
to one P.M. ; from one to seven ; from seven to eleven- 


thirty; and from eleven-thirty p.m. to seven a.m. 
In addition there is an extra shift to help at the rush 
hours, which occur usually about ten a.m. and four 
P.M. At these times the big dining-room resembles 
nothing so much as a six-o'clock subway rush. The 
poilus are packed in tight as they can squeeze — 
every one with his head pointed toward the caisse, 
where are sold the tickets for the repas complet. 
Each meal costs seventy-five centimes. 

January 16th. 

Of all the shifts I love the morning best. Then the 
men come storming in so ravenous that it's a pleasure 
to see them eat. And then is when they're gayest. 
The afternoon is apt to be prosaic. But the night 
shift is the most interesting of all. Then things seem 
to stand out, to take on personality, to become more 
alive, vivid and real. Then impressions, pictures, 
scenes are stamped on the brain as clean as if cut with 
a die, true in every trivial detail. Soldiers playing 
cards by the light of a flickering candle, their huge 
ungainly shadows capering up against the wall. 

Now and again from the shadows emerges a clear 
profile, aquiline, delicate, a living medallion with 
closed eyes. Over in yonder corner, for example, is 
a boy fast asleep. His head tilted against the wall 
reveals a face as finely chiseled as any on an old 
Roman coin. His curly lashes lie flat on his thin 
cheeks. His nostrils are slightly pinched. Two 


perpendicular lines run from nose to jaw. How 
young he looks, how white and worn! His mobile 
mouth, softly closed, droops at the corners, like that 
of a tired child. He stirs and mutters something. 
And now he smiles! He is dreaming, that boy, I 
know. If his mother could see him now ! . . . The 
rear door opens, the guard thrusts in a head and calls 
a certain train. The young soldier rouses, staggers 
for his pack, drunk with sleep, his face still soft with 

I remember one night a slumbering poilu sprang to 
his feet, shouting ^^Aua: armesT* And his voice was 
so thrilling and terrible, so charged with hoarse com- 
mand, that all the soldiers leaped up, wide awake on 
the instant, and glared wildly about them. The next 
minute the room was filled with curses, not loud but 

Work of this kind, hard and monotonous as it un- 
doubtedly is, is yet the most satisfying in the world 
— provided one has a gift for it. It takes hold of 
the heart. It is immediate, it has the warm personal 
touch, and it ties you straight up with humanity in 
the raw. The abstract philosophy of the war — ^who 
is the most to blame and why — ceases to vex you. 
You become absorbed in your own little circle. Life 
beyond it seems remote. You love the poilu and he 
loves you — and makes no bones about it. So let the 
Huns rage over behind yonder ridge, and imagine 
vain things. Somehow, all that does not concern 


you. You have become confident, gay, certain of 
destmy-like the simple little poilu. It's service that 
does it. 

Last night when I returned home from work it had 
stopped raining. Overhead the great overturned cup 
of sky glittered and gleamed— with half its stars 
dropped down into the dark flowing river by my side 
And there was a second moon down there, pale and 
drowned. An enchanted mist, fine as a bride's veil, 
hung over all. By night the Marne is beautiful. Far 
off came the boom of the Verdun guns, that hammer- 
ing which has been going on now for years, "as if two 
armies of giants were striking unceasingly at an un- 
shakable gate of bronze." Here it was nothing but 
an echo on the wind. There, as one Tommy put it, 
it was "hell multiplied by six." 

■ They say the Germans will break through this way. 
I think of the thousand thousand poilus who have 
tramped through our canteen, each one an anony- 
mous hero— and I smile. It's all right. Let the 
Huns come on ! 


In the beginning we did not intend to go to Ver- 
dun. We did not dream that it was even within the 
bright reahns of possibility. At the moment — a su- 
premely painful and suspense-filled moment, fraught 
with danger to France and the Allied world — ^Verdun 
belonged strictly to the forbidden zone. Forbidden 
to all outsiders, men and women, to all civilians and 
civilian affairs; forbidden, indeed, to all the world 
save those grim horizon-blue-clad veterans who were 
rushing northward by trainloads, together with heavy 

Permission had been stopped. Stopped also the 
parcels to the Front. It was not the hour for the 
manifestation of woman or love or the transmission 
of tokens of affection. It was the hour for men and 
arms. Paris, a military camp shelled in the day by 
long-range guns and bombed in the night by Gothas, 
was locked to the north with a staunch lock, and the 
Grand Quartier General held the key. You could 
come in if you chanced to be caught up there when 
the storm broke, but you could not get out again. 



For it was the closing week of March, 1918. The 
long-awaited, much-heralded offensive had arrived. 
For months it had been the first word in the mouths 
of privates, officers, statesmen, editors — the entire 
civilized world. When, where, how — some one of 
those three aspects of the universal question cropped 
up in every conversation in the course of half an 

Well, now we knew the partial answer to those 
three questions. For the shadow of the menace of 
the long months was beginning to realize itself ; it had 
become flesh and dwelt among us, a fabulous red 
monster of carnage and slaughter up there in the 

When the Germans struck their first sledge-ham- 
mer blow and the Fifth British Army recoiled before 
the blow the entire line from north to south felt the 
thrill of the shock. Paris, the goal of the enemy, 
felt it, too, and there went up from the city a kind 
of big sigh, a long exhalation, which was almost a 
breath of relief. At any rate the long suspense was 
past. At the end of the third or fourth day refugees 
began to pour in by thousands, a poor, tragic, dazed 
procession, twice bereft of their scanty possessions. 
They brought with them wild, incoherent, garbled 
accounts of the terrible sanguinary losses on both 

Paris, perhaps all France, possesses the feminine 
temperament. In hours of ease she is willful, coy and 


hard to please — especially with strangers ; she is 
charming, baffling, impatient, outspoken over the 
foibles of her best friends and allies, keenly aware 
of the ridiculous, gay with a spice of maliciousness ; 
her caricatures, often grossly unjust, are master- 
pieces of fine satirical wit. But in the hour of trial 
she gathers herself together with a courage, a poise 
and a profound tenderness for those of her people 
who have been stricken that are exceedingly good to 

And that is what happened now. Paris found im- 
mediate food and shelter for the fugitives ; printed 
proclamations that appeared all over the city, bid- 
ding the citizens to remain steadfast and unshaken 
in their faith of victory and put no credence in lying 
rumors ; and at the same time, as the Big Berthas con- 
tinued their vehement spitting at intervals, and the 
air raids harried and took toll of the city's innocent 
poor — for it is chiefly the workers, the servants, the 
little people of Paris living in the top stories up 
under the roofs who had to descend each night to the 
caves at the call of the siren — the newspapers urged 
all families who could afford it, all those who had 
children or old or sick to remove themselves out of 
the new zone of danger to the tranquillity of the 

And thousands followed the wise advice. Hotels 
de luxe were emptied inside of a week. Shopkeepers 
and workers who could manage to leave ordained a 


spring holiday and departed to their relatives in the 
provinces. It was an exodus. There were left the 
big wide empty places of Paris, filled with a gray- 
blue gossamer mist soft as chiffon, which wrapped 
all the city in an enchanted web ; the tranquil garden 
walks deserted by children, vivid with rhododendrons 
and the drifting pink and white petals of chestnut 
blooms ; and the good solid block of reliable Paris 
citizens, neither frightened nor fugitive, who had 
lived through the Marne and the Mons and the Cham- 
pagne and the Verdun attacks, and who read the dis- 
quieting communiques with composed faces and went 
about their affairs as usual. 

Practically no troops are now routed through the 
capital, but occasionally one saw small detachments 
of fantassins with their heavy marching equipment 
filing through the empty squares. They did not look 
warlike, those poilus, veterans of four years, when 
they appeared in the streets of Paris. They marched 
slowly, laboriously, one foot lagging after the other, 
shoulders bent beneath the weight of the kit, their 
eyes fixed on the ground. The horizon-blue uniforms 
were faded and patched and their clumsy storm coats 
with the skirts buttoned back gave them an indescrib- 
ably pathetic air. Seen thus at twilight and melting 
into the dusky background there was something about 
these somber, slow-plodding, burdened figures that 
hurt the heart. One felt an overwhelming tenderness, 
a pity for these brave little men. And yet these were 


the selfsame poilus who a few days later stemmed the 
furious German tide — and they sang as they went 
into battle. And nearly four years they sang ! 

It would not be untrue to say that underneath her 
courageous calm Paris did not feel the cruel strain 
of that first uncertain week of the offensive. The 
strain of the situation was brought home to me, wait- 
ing for my passes, by several incidents. Naomie, the 
trim little femme de chambre, pretty as a pink ca- 
mellia, whose voice has the soft deep throb of a cello, 
went about with a face as pale as the linen she bore 
on her arm. And as she made the bed and swept and 
aired the room she wept, quietly, steadily, the silvery 
globules stealing silently one by one down her cheeks. 
When they obstructed her vision she stopped, brushed 
them away methodically and went on. My pillow was 
wet with Naomie's tears. 

"I am ashamed, mademoiselle ; I ask pardon to be 
like this," she murmured one morning when I had 
caught her outright drying her eyes. "One must be 
strong these days. But my husband, he has been 
transferred up north on the British line. And now 
I have not heard from him, here it is over a week. 
Before he always sent me a little word each day. He 
never failed — some little word each day." She 
plaited the counterpane with unseeing eyes as she 
muttered: "Ten days! Yes, it is that — ^just. And 
not one little word. But one must be strong, n*est~ 
ce pasy mademoiselle?*' 


The next disturbing thing that happened was the 

news that B had deserted. His wife was my 

friend. B was a Frenchman in a famous fight- 
ing regiment, sensitive, fine-strung, none too strong, 
who had been in the trenches since 1914. What evil 
of fear, irritation, revolt or sheer brain collapse led 
to the decision we shall never know. But one day he 
threw down his gas mask in the midst of an attack 
and walked out of the trenches. His battalion had 
been incessantly shelled for weeks. In the front-line 
trenches they were hammered by the guns. In the 
back areas, en repos, they caught the bombs. No 
sleep in either place. This kept up week after week. 

And suddenly, like an elephant, B had "gone 


He appeared suddenly in Paris at a time when not 
a single Frenchman was on leave ; and he walked the 
boulevards with the number of that famous fighting 
regiment on the collar of his tunic blazing forth for 
all the world to see. It was a miracle he was not in- 
stantly caught. As it was he was a prisoner ; for he 
had no papers, and therefore he could not send a 
telegram or register at a hotel or take a train or 

leave the city. A friend telegraphed for B 's 

wife, who was in the country, sending a noncommittal 

wire so as not to alarm B 's mother, an ardent 

patriot, who would have instantly handed over her 
recreant son to the police. The wife arrived. To 
her B declared his intention of joining the For- 


eign Legion. That meant that his brain flare or mo- 
mentary cowardice had passed. 

Anyone may join* the Foreign Legion. There no 
embarrassing questions are asked. They take on all 
comers, and then pitch them headlong into the very 
kottest hell of the battle. Accordingly B , know- 
ing that if he could once win to their offices he would 
be safe from arrest, stole out from his doorway one 
morning and, avoiding officers and gendarmes, gained 
the recruiting bureau. 

But here an unexpected blow fell. The recruiting 
end of the bureau had been shifted to Lyons. But 
how to get there! He could not ride in a train or 
a public conveyance. He could not dine openly in a 
restaurant or sleep in a hotel. And to be seen tramp- 
ing south in this crisis meant certain arrest and 
death. However, there was nothing for it but to 
make the attempt — to walk by night and lie hidden 
in the day. He started forth — and no word has been 
heard of him since. 

In time the news of his desertion leaked out. And 
the gendarme on the beat took it upon himself to 

rebuke Madame B for having such a villain 

husband. He is a fat, greasy, bald-headed little man, 
this gendarme, who sits long over his grenadine, and 
has never been nearer the Front than the city forti- 

Madame B flew at him like a fury. 

"Have you ever been out there — fat embusque?" 


she shrilled, shaking her finger under his nose. 
"Have you fought four years in that hell? Been 
wounded five times, had fever, rheumatism, suffered 
from shell shock, been made deaf from bombardment, 
had your nerves shattered so that j^ou never sleep? 
Is your hair turned gray at twenty-five years? Oh, 
my God! No? Then keep your mouth shut! »Tis 
not for such as you to speak of this war I 'Tis for 
those who have endured." 

It was this courage made human by the private 
griefs of the people of France, who after four weary, 
crucifying years were still bearing the cross, filling 
the breach, saving the day, and saving it with a su- 
perb dash despite individual heartbreaks, that filled 
my mind as, our passes obtained, we journeyed north- 
ward. It seemed to me that perhaps the month of 
March, 1918, was to be made memorable by the fact 
that at that particular time America began definitely 
to shift to her own young shoulders the weight of 
the agonizing burden France had borne so long. For 
this reason the opening offensive marked a transition 
period, for theretofore we had held only quiet sec- 

But it was not the fact of the shifting of the out- 
ward burden that interested me so much as to dis- 
cover if possible whether that shift was to extend 
also to the spirit — whether the soul of France, the 
soul of her soldiers, her poilus, was to pass into the 
soul of this new, strong, eager young Army. For the 


quality that distinguishes the poilu from his enemies 
and from his allies alike is not brute force, or body 
fitness, or stubborn pride, or stiff resistance, or 
obedience, or cohesion, or physical valor — but sheer 
spiritual stamina. He has an invincible come-back. 
His soul can't be beat. The French, who are an ex- 
tremely clannish race, say that they feel a closer 
bond with Americans than with any other people on 
earth. This is not mere diplomatic balder-dash. 
They declare that aside from possessing the same 
democratic ideals, the same passion for scientific re- 
search, there is a decided similarity of temperament. 
In both peoples there are the same swiftness of per- 
ception, the same suppleness of mind, lightness of 
wit and comradeliness toward life and toward each 
other which have made France like one great family. 
And now that the two nations in this offensive are 
fighting side by side and brigade by brigade, the 
French in their speeches and editorials and communi- 
ques have announced that the spiritual metal of the 
two armies is the same; that the spontaneous, un- 
quenchable, ^^En avant! Tou jours en avantT* qual- 
ity of attack, attack, and again attack of the French 
poilu is also the salient characteristic of the new- 
comers. It was this particular declaration that put 
a keener edge on my observations during my jour- 
ney. I was on the lookout for signs in our men of 
the conquering will of the poilu. 

It is not germane to the subject to describe in 


detail that eight-day motor trip through the heart 
of the American war zone in France. We covered 
each day hundreds of kilometers of the lovely rolling 
meadow and hill country of Lorraine — orchards, 
fields and woods radiant in shimmering green, clothed 
in primal light of leaf. We passed scores of red- 
tiled hamlets, each the identical facsimile of the other, 
with steaming manure heaps adorning the front yards 
of prominent citizens, hens and bouncing babies 
scratching therein, and toothless old dames sitting 
on the doorsteps peering out upon the world with 
faded eyes. 

We stopped at numerous American base-hospital 
centers, some in stone cantonments, formerly army 
barracks turned over by the French; some former 
hotel resorts ; and still others brand-new frame build- 
ings, entire villages with duck-board streets. We 
motored through endless series of repos stations, one 
following hard upon another like beads on a string, 
of English, American, French, Italian, Portuguese, 
Annamlte and Senegalese troops. At the close of 
the day in the rosy smolder of the afterglow we 
hunted aviation camps In the advanced war zone, and 
found the vast aerodromes so shrewdly camouflaged 
that we could scarcely discern them from the dappled 
landscape. We passed through the center where Is 
situated the training school for army officers, a beau- 
tiful old fortressed town set like a coronet high on a 
wooded hill. We stayed the night at Army Head- 


quarters in a hotel packed with the hierarchy of the 
General Staff, where automobiles with flags drew up 
before the door and mackintoshed generals berib- 
boned and bestarred strode in out of the lashing rain. 

Our quest took us from the drowsy, tranquil rear 
of the war zone clear up to the Luneville sector be- 
yond Toul, where we witnessed two air fights in the 
course of one morning. It was the portion of France 
given over to the American effort. We traversed 
and crisscrossed it back and forth and from end to 
end. And everywhere we met the same phenomenon 
— the lithe, clean-limbed, khaki-clad American sol- 
dier. The land was alive with him ! Several months 
previously I had been over this same territory, and 
then even a Red Cross man was a rare animal which 
the natives paused to regard. Now, after eight 
months, the entire countryside hummed and buzzed 
like a vast beehive. It was the visible result before 
our eyes of all the sweat and labor and strain of a 
mighty nation intent on a single goal — to transport 
men to France. 

Well, here were the men, hundreds of thousands of 
them, scattered over a vast camp ground. We met 
battalions of them swinging along the roads in step 
and singing a lively marching air. We came across 
them in sunny fields prodding dummy Huns with bay- 
onets ; we passed groups of them in remote and peace- 
ful valleys picking off targets at rifle ranges. We 
met them at lonely crossroads, together with a 


French comrade, acting as military police. They 
gave us the salute that is known as the Pershing — 
bringing the hand smartly up to the forage cap in 
an abrupt little gesture full of style. And they in- 
variably followed the salute with an infectious after- 
grin. The salute was Pershing's. The grin was all 
their own. We saw them tearing along roads at a 
breakneck clip in those snorting demons of motor- 
cycles called "wife-killers." We overtook them driv- 
ing camions and transports and mule teams. 

Later we met an entire division on the move — ar- 
tillery, infantry, ammunition and cook wagons — a 
long strung-out procession against the drab sky line. 
They were bound up there, they vaguely told us. But 
we knew and they knew that they were going to par- 
ticipate in a struggle compared to which life in the 
drowsy Toul sector was as but a holiday fete. We 
glimpsed them driving powerful American locomo- 
tives, beside which the diminutive French engines 
seemed like toys that one could pick up in the palm 
of the hand — and they leaned far out of their ca- 
booses to cheer. We saw them packed like herrings 
in the dingy low-ceiled dining-rooms of provincial 
towns, drinking their pinard diluted with water in 
true poilu style, then fetching out their makings and 
rolling a smoke in true American style. We saw 
them in camp, en repos, in hospital, on the march. 

There is a pageantry about war when one sits 
back thus and views its effects from the outside — a 


kind of large, glittering nobility which thrills and 
quickens the blood despite oneself — until one sees the 
wrecks. And in the hospitals we began to get the 

wrecks. In , a famous old town turned into a 

hospital center, we stopped to look up some missing 
men. The other members of the party went to visit 
the wards, but I wandered about the streets and pres- 
ently came upon a squad of privates in wrinkled, 
freshly disinfected uniforms, the tunics skin-tight, 
revealing the owners' slim waists and finely swelling 
shoulder muscles. But they had a pale washed-out 
look, as if they themselves had undergone the ordeal 
of disinfection along with their uniforms. A lieuten- 
ant was calling the roll. 

Aside from the line-up a few paces stood a husky 
private with a sulky lowering face. He had crowded 
his battered sombrero down over his bloodshot eyes 
and was scowling like a movie pirate. "What's hap^ 
pening to those men?" I asked, nodding at the squad. 

"They've been gassed and now they're declared 
O. K. and are going back to the Front." 

He spoke in a curious broken rasping whisper, 
which I recognized. 

"You've been gassed, too ?" I hazarded. 

"Yes," he croaked. "And I'm just as well as any 
fellow in that gang. We all got it at the same time. 
But the doc, when he heard my voice, wouldn't let me 
go. But damn it all, a guy don't fight with his 
voice !'* 


*^He's playing favorites, that doc," whispered an- 
other lank, humorous-eyed young giant strolling up, 
his peaked forage cap drawn low so as to shelter, if 
possible, those bloodshot eyes. "Wouldn't let me out, 
either ! Durn the durned docs, I say !" 

"But you were burned as well as gassed," I ob- 
jected, for the entire lower part of his face and neck 
was an angry red peeling blister. "What kind of 
gas was it?" I demanded. 

"Mustard. Burns your insides out if you get a 
bad case. I tell you I've had enough to last me one 
life. No more mustard on cold beef for mine!" 

"And how is the gas-mask discipline?" 

"Well, that depends on the battalion. In my bat- 
talion the commander was strong for drills. We had 
them morning, noon and night, and in the middle of 
the night. Seemed as if the old man had gone crazy 
on gas discipline. But when the big gas attack came 
we had only a four per cent casualty list, and the 
battalion alongside, which had been going easy on 
drills, caught it something fierce. Our battalion got 
recommended to G. H. Q. I caught my gas in a 
dugout the next day." 

"And you are still keen to get back into all that ?" 

"Am I?" he repeated, his eyes hardening. "I'll 
tell you how I feel : When I first came over I had a 
kind of sneaking notion that Heinie wasn't so dusky 
as he was painted. But I lost that notion pretty 
quick when I got up front and saw my lieutenant 


shot in the back by a boche prisoner who had thrown 
up his hands. Now I want to lick the Huns till they 
holler, and then keep on licking them for a year after 
that for the good of their souls." 

Inside of the hospital were grimmer cases. In one 
iof the wards we came on a Texan with the bright, 
clear-gazing eyes that one sometimes finds in old sail- 
ors. They had taken his leg off. When we asked how 
he was making it he turned on us those straight deep 
eyes, and there was trouble in them. 

"There's just one thing I'm sorry for," said he. 

"What is that?" 

"That I didn't have more time." 

Time for what, I wondered. And then looking 
down on that wrecked body, with the covers lifted 
high over apparatus so as not to touch the tormented 
nerves, I thought I understood. He was sorry he 
didn't have more time to get out of the way. That 
was it. It was what anybody would wish for — two, 
three, five seconds of grace to have gotten out of 
the way. Lying here through the long hours empty 
of everything but pain, he had doubtless worked out 
the problem to the finest precision, and he knew to 
the last trick just how much more time it would have 
taken to have dropped to the ground, to have eluded 
that exploding shell. Now all his life long he was 
going to regret the lack of those few precious sec- 

"Yes," he repeated slowly, laboriously, the trouble 


still in his eyes, "I'd like to have had more time. 
Don't seem right somehow. 'Tain't fitting to be lying 
here with the show just begun. I'd like to have done 
more damage. But," he brightened, "I've figured 
there's still some jobs a peg-legged man can do over 
here. And I tell you one thing : I'm not going home 
till we've licked the Huns or the Huns have licked 

He laughed at the latter impossibility, and the 
laughter shook his body and turned him pale. And 
still he laughed on. I thought when he wished for 
more time that he was thinking in terms of self and 
personal safety, and all the time he had been thinking 
in the biggest terms of service to mankind. 

It was not until the fifth day of our trip that Ver- 
dun loomed on the horizon as a rosy possibility. We 
were dining in Nancy at Voltaire's with M. Martin, 
the sous-prefet of the department of Meurthe-et- 
Moselle. M. Martin, it appeared, had never been in 
Verdun. Since we had business at a French hospital 
fifteen kilometers from the citadel he thought it pos- 
sible, probable — of course, nothing was sure; abso- 
lutely no Verdun passes had been issued for ten days 
— still, one never could tell ; and if we would like him 
to try — he paused to beam and smile — if we would 
give him our papers he would send them in to the 
Grand Quartier General, together with his own, and 
then — well, in short we would await the turn of 


"Whether we shall be accorded permission at this 
crucial moment is doubtful," he concluded. "But at 
any rate we may hope." 

So we turned in our papers and we hoped. To see 
Verdun at this crisis, when to the north millions of 
men were crashing together in terrific combat, with 
an appalling sanguinary back tide of wounded and 
dead, lent the occasion a deep significance, for Ver- 
dun to the whole world has become a symbol of con- 
fidence, a kind of ark of the covenant to battling 
mankind. I did not conceal from myself that what 
gave Verdun its specific interest to me was the news 
that our troops round Montdidier and Amiens were 
now engaged in the present titanic struggle. That 
fact took the famous fortress out of the list of mere 
great monuments of history ; it made it in short our 
own, part and parcel of America, its glories our 
glories, its defense our defense, its high challenge our 
challenge, its victory our victory. But there was 
something more than that in the back of my mind. 
Verdun was behind the French, so to speak, finished 
history. Our Verduns were still of to-morrow, a 
promise, a prophecy. The actors were those humor- 
ous-eyed khaki-clad soldiers standing at lonely cross- 
roads who had given us the smart little salute with the 
friendly aftergrin. Thus it was with the feeling of 
reading ahead of time a page of history not yet evoked 
but inevitable that I prepared to go to Verdun. 

The past week had been of a piece with the raw 


spring weather, lowering, foggy or sluicing water 
by the liquid ton out of a somber sky. With one 
accord we prayed for sunshine in order to view the 
surrounding heights. Cote 304, Saint Mihiel, Douau- 
mont, Veau and Mort Homme. But the day that 
dawned was brother to the rest — ^bleak, dark, with a 
clinging fog, which muffled the landscape and grew 
ever thicker as the hours passed. Our passes had 
arrived from French Headquarters, but the final vise, 
the permission to enter Verdun itself, must be ob- 
tained at V , fifteen kilometers from the citadel, 

and if there was heavy shelling either of the fort or 
of the surrounding roads we should certainly be re- 

It was six o'clock in the morning when as guests of 
the French Government and of M. Martin in particu- 
lar we clambered into a military automobile, one of 
those lean, powerful drab monsters that go cycloning 
along the highways behind the lines at a stupefying 
rate of speed. We had estimated that, including 
necessary stops at French hospitals containing 
American wounded, we should arrive at Verdun about 
noon. Therefore we had taken the precaution to 
bring our luncheon, with the intention of picnicking 
among the ruins and perhaps obtaining some coffee 
from the poilus' mess. The chefs d*oeuvr^s of the 
provisions were two tiny cold fowl de luxe weighing 
about a pound apiece, which had cost eight round 
silver dollars* 


The next four hours on my part were given to the 
task of keeping my hair and my ears on. For the 
wind as it swooped by tried to drive us bodily from 
the car; the cold congealed us in cramped positions 
and the fog chilled us to the bone. We could not 
discern the road twenty yards ahead. The car 
roared forward into a barrage of thick mist which 
shredded on the hillcrests only to sag more heavily 
in the valleys. This, M. Martin assured us, was 
typical Picardy weather. At crossroads where we 
were stopped by the police M. Martin presented his 
card of identity, signed in Joifre's own hand, and 
we were waved onward with honorable presentations 
of arms. As we neared our destination we diverged 
from the straight highroad, making a detour, for 
some routes are reserved for ingoing and some for 
outgoing traffic, and these routes are constantly al- 
tered in order to safeguard materials and confound 
the Hun. 

Arrived at V we drew up in a long rank of 

machines in front of Headquarters and M. Martin 
vanished to make his felicitations to the command- 
ant and to telephone in to Verdun. Our fate still 
hung in the balance. The minutes slipped by. Gen- 
erals — French, American, British — dashed up in 
their automobiles, descended, saluted and vanished or 
stood talking in earnest groups. Americans, recog- 
nizing compatriots, saluted us from streets and door- 
ways and strolled over to ask of home and how the 


Statue of Liberty fared. She was a pretty fine old 
girl, quoi? — as the French say. 

An hour passed. And still M. Martin tarried. At 
the end of twenty minutes more he reappeared down 
the end of a street, his civilian black standing out in 
striking relief against the motley of khaki and hori- 
zon-blue uniforms and gold braid. 

**En avant!" he exclaimed gayly, climbing into the 
car. "They got the commanding officer of the cita- 
del on the wire. He expects us and asked us to mess 
with his officers in the citadel, but I refused, as it 
will be long past one by the time we arrive. This 
fog after all has served us well. They are not bom- 
barding the fortress to-day." 

I do not recall the last fifteen kilometers of that 
journey, save that we sped like the wind, straining 
our eyes through the mist for the first glimpse of the 
famous stronghold. Presently "There! There!" 
broke simultaneously from our lips, and a few min- 
utes later we were rolling under a noble stone arch- 
way, green and mossy with age, which looked as if 
it had been reared in the days of Uther Pendragon, 
and were being greeted by the commanding officer of 
the citadel of Verdun. We were to take everything 
out of the car, said he, and come right in. Lunch 
was waiting. In vain M. Martin protested. The 
colonel waved his protests aside with a smile. He 
led us into the fortress, down a long underground 
tunnel, which rang hollowly beneath our feet, to a 


set of guests' dressing rooms, where we repaired tHe 
ravages of the long ride. A few minutes later he re- 
turned, conducted us through another series of cor- 
ridors, through an enormous mess hall, where the 
men as he entered sprang clattering to their feet, and 
ushered us into the officers' mess room. 

It was small, that dining room situated forty feet 
underground in the stone heart of the citadel, seat- 
ing scarce a dozen persons, and simple, lofty-ceiled, 
severe. And yet it was a veritable jewel, flashing 
with rich strong colors, magnificent with its brilliant 
sheaths of battle flags, and glittering with the steel 
and silver and gold of its souvenirs of valor — armor 
and medals and trophies which gleamed from cabinet 
and wall. Here had collected at one time and an- 
other all the great chiefs of the Allies ; and here the 
presumptuous Crown Prince had sworn to eat his 
triumphal banquet. 

Over the mantelpiece hung the pennants of all the 
Entente Powers, a bright formidable array, topped 
with the watchword of the impregnable fortress, "Ow 
ne passe pas" a phrase descending from the days of 
the Little Corporal. The opposite wall bore medals 
of honor — the Croix de Guerre, the Medaille Mili- 
taire and the Legion d'Honneur bestowed by a grate- 
ful nation upon the citadel itself, as if it possessed 
a glorious soul. Here and there hung heavy-studded 
shields surrounded by rayons of ancient swords and 


What we ate or whether we ate I cannot recall. 
The colonel had left us, bidding us genially to make 
haste, as there was much to see, much to recount, 
and we sat drinking in the spell of that wondrous 
little room, steeped in the atmosphere of valor, heark- 
ening to the voice of the past, rejoicing in the brave 
prophecy of the future, and trying to realize that 
even as we sat French and American troops were 
rushing north to stem the furious onslaught of the 

"Well, now," said the colonel, opening the door, 
''if you are refreshed we will begin. We shall take 
first the view of the heights, then I shall show you 
the fortress, and after that the ruins of Verdun." 

We had asked M. Martin to recount the history 
of the great offensive, and he had turned over the 
appeal to the commanding officer of the citadel, who 
had promised to describe the climax of the decisive 
battle on the exact spot where the Germans made 
their final stubborn stand and were beaten back with 
stupendous loss. 

Outside, the weather had settled to a continuous 
drizzle. We wound round the hill by a serpentine 
road and presently attained its crest. Here we aban- 
doned the car and stumbled over a torn and wrenched 
terrain, pitted with shell holes fifty feet across and 
partially filled with black filthy water. Filled also 
with old dismantled cannon, unexploded cartridges, 
rusted bayonets, twisted iron fragments of great 


shells, and an occasional sodden kepi. Between these 
craters the hummocks were dotted with graves 
marked with a cross and the simple French cocarde. 
Standing under that bleak sky and gazing out across 
that sinister smitten landscape with its gaunt shot- 
off trees and its deep gashes of trenches marked by 
blood-red earth was like looking upon some huge mon- 
ster frozen in a horrible death agony. It had been 
foully murdered, that hill, and it lay like a mutilated 
corpse, stiffly outflung, uncovered, indecent, its hid- 
eous wounds gaping up to the sky. 

The colonel came to a halt. "Here we are," he 
began. "Here is the farthest point that the enemy 
penetrated. Here he was beaten back — just at your 
feet, mademoiselle." He pointed with his cane, and 
I stared down, expecting to see I scarce know what, 
some visible sign, some chalk mark or whitewashed 
tennis-court line, to identify that tremendous check. 
But there was nothing. My feet were pressing down 
a clump of fresh blue violets, wet-eyed from the rain. 
I stepped off them hastily. 

The colonel continued his narrative. The wind 
blew back the heavy skirts of his greatcoat; his 
sturdy, compact figure, firmly planted as a statue, 
defied the elements ; his leonine white head, which re- 
minded one of Joffre's, glistened with rain drops ; his 
voice, gentle, level, dispassionate, filled one with utter 
conviction. We knew what he said was true. Here 
came the enemy from that direction — ^he pointed — 


and from there, and there, all converging on this one 
point. And when they were very near, advancing 
shoulder to shoulder in dense mass formation, two 
concealed French batteries, one from either side, 
opened on their serried columns a terrific enfilading 
fire. It was close-range slaughter — such as was go- 
ing on even now in the north. Their first ranks lay 
in windrows. Their dead covered this hill like a car- 
pet. And still their thinning numbers were filled 
with rushing hosts from behind and they pressed on 
and on, wave upon wave, the farthest of which had 
broken just at the point where we stood. There it 
was pushed back by a spirited counter thrust by the 
French fantassins. 

"And your own troops, mon colonel, I suppose 
they gave a good account of themselves ?" queried M. 

"You have said it," replied the colonel with proud 
simplicity. "My brave men in that attack covered 
and recovered themselves with glory." 

In the meantime, he continued, down below — ^he 
would show us presently — another strong enemy force 
had tried to force an entrance to the fortress at one 
of the tunnel exits. This exit, leading by a series 
of passages on different levels to the very innermost 
heart of the citadel, gave on the outside upon a con- 
tracted open space between two ridges, and was pro- 
tected first by a deep surrounding fosse filled with a 
maze of barbed wire, and second by a fifteen-foot 


stone wall which formed part of the outer fortifica- 
tions. Down this wall the Germans had leaped like 
a tumbling cataract. The first wave fell into the 
fosse and was followed by another and another, until 
the ancient moat was heaped level with a writhing 
human bridge across which the hostile troops rushed 
and gained the narrow space before the mouth of the 

"And were there no French machine guns playing 
upon them from the entrance?" 

"Oh, yes — there were two seventy-fives," said the 
colonel quietly, "less than a hundred yards away." 
We could perhaps imagine, he continued, what car- 
nage they wrought in that confined space. Germans 
had dropped down from that height like overripe 
fruit trained against a wall. The French gunners 
obliterated the first, the second, the third and the 
fourth waves ; and the fifth broke right on the flam- 
ing sjiouts of their guns. The sixth gained the tun- 
nel entrance. Here the garrison counter-attacked, 
and the enemy turned tail and ran. But not far. 
The wall was before them and the guns were behind. 
That particular hostile force was wiped out to a 

The colonel's calm voice flowed on and on, describ- 
ing the desperate details of that epic attack, and 
now and again he pointed with his stick into the fog, 
locating great enemy batteries which had poured a 
deadly hail of shells upon this hill. Altogether, he 


said, the French had lost in killed during that six 
months' offensive one hundred and ten thousand ; the 
Germans more than half a million. And most of 
them had fallen on and round this height on which 
we stood. I looked about that somber, brooding, 
ghost-haunted hill, where half a million souls slain 
violently in battle had flown upward in a thick mist 
— and as I looked it seemed that the fog had a ruddy 
under tinge as if a subtle crimson reek exuded from 
the blood-drenched ground. 

As the colonel continued his narrative I tried in 
fancy to reconstruct the vision of the battlefield. Of 
German prisoners I had seen a-plenty with their 
close-cropped, bullet-shaped heads and furtive yet 
arrogant eyes. The French poilus also — those gay, 
stout-hearted little men, some of the greatest fighters 
and the greatest phrase-makers on earth — were fa- 
miliar figures in my mind. So that all the ingredi- 
ents of the picture were at hand. Nevertheless, all 
unconsciously I kept making a curious mental error. 
The intensity of the combat still raging to the north 
somehow drew the picture out of focus, causing it to 
appear, not past history but something which was 
still actually going on. I knew it was past, and still 
it fused in my mind with the unfinished present. 

Added to that, my brain was so saturated with 
images of our American troops as I had seen them 
the past week, and those images were so vivid, pow- 
erful and real that I could visualize nothing else. 


Thus, when the colonel said '*nos soldats,^' my mind 
unconsciously translated "our soldiers"; and I saw, 
not the horizon blue of the poilus but the clean, lithe 
khaki-clad Americans with their fresh faces and good- 
humored eyes. And when he said "Our brave troops 
charged here — and here — and here," my mind saw 
"our brave troops charging here — and here — and 
here." I tried to rid my mind of that delusion — 
for it was too painful on that dusky death-smitten 
hill, with the knowledge that even at that very mo- 
ment our own brave troops were indeed charging to 
the north upon some other hill. But the past week 
had etched the images too deeply on my mind; and 
I could not wipe them out. 

M. Martin interrogated the colonel concerning 
their losses. 

"Yes," replied the colonel soberly, "one hundred 
and ten thousand of our men fell." 

"One hundred and ten thousand of our men fell !" 
reiterated my heart with a pang. Never before had 
that figure seemed so monstrous. Why, that was 
one, two, three, four, five whole divisions ! Our first 
division, that I had seen, our second, all those fine 
Rainbow fellows — pshaw! It was incredible! 

"One hundred and ten thousand are a great many 
men to die I" I remarked aloud. 

And even as I spoke, my mind, righting itself, said 
within itself: '*But of course those one hundred and 
ten thousand men were Frenchmen I Not Americans. 


Our men have only just gone north. Don't you 
remember, you saw the — th Division on the move?" 
Thus mentally I righted myself. Nevertheless, one 
hundred and ten thousand were indeed a great many 
men to die, and I repeated my remark. 

"Pas tropF* — not too many! — replied the colonel 
simply. And those two words, soberly spoken, were 
the epitome of the Verdun spirit. 

Later he pointed out a cemetery on a distant hill- 
side containing five thousand fallen heroes. "In that 
one cemetery," said he, "lie thirty of my own 

"And you, you have been wounded, my colonel?" 
inquired M. Martin. 

"Three times only," replied the colonel with a 
shrug. "Once seriously. But I would not leave the 
citadel. I do not like hospitals — those white places. 
They are not for me. If I die I die here where I 
belong, with my men." 

The rain still continued, a steady drenching down- 
pour. "But you may be thankful," remarked the 
colonel, wiping his streaming face, "as otherwise this 
hill would be impossible. To-day the cannon are giv- 
ing us a rest." 

He led the way to the nearest tunnel entrance to 
the citadel. With the others I followed, eagerly 
listening to his explanations. But my mind was still 
in a whirl. That dark and desolate blood-soaked hill, 
the staunch old colonel, with the dewdrops in his 


white hair, recounting the valorous deeds of his fallen 
heroes, those acres on acres of graves, the ascending 
hosts of souls — ^were not some of them perhaps still 
lingering in this lonely spot, dazed by their violent 
severance from the flesh, ignorant that they had 
passed across ? Would they not cry out at night for 
aid, for news of the battle front : "Why are we aban- 
doned thus? Who wins? Vaterland? La PatrieV^ 
• — the Americans, who had not engaged in this strug- 
gle, to be sure, but were now fighting in an even 
mightier struggle — all these things mingled con- 
fusedly in my mind like the unmatched parts of a 

Thanks to my classical education, I had no proper 
conception of what constitutes a modern fortress. I 
had vaguely imagined it as a city ringed round with 
a very substantial stone wall, crenelated and tur- 
reted, with dozens of peepholes for the doughty gun- 
ners to take pot shots at the enemy established out- 
side. In the very heart of the city would be the 
citadel, which figured in my mind as a big, round, 
impregnable stone tower bristling with teethlike rows 
of cannon, its foundations naturally extending scores 
of feet underneath. Accordingly when we set out to 
traverse the long series of dimly-lit reverberating 
subterranean passages, descended flights of slimy 
stone stairs to lower and danker levels, stopped in 
gun and ammunition rooms, electric-plant rooms, 
kitchens, mess rooms, infirmaries, chapels, musees, 


cinema and rest rooms, dormitories, cavernous 
abodes, twenty, thirty and forty feet below ground, 
I began to wonder when we were going upstairs. 

"But there is no upstairs," responded M. Martin, 
laughing in answer to my query — "not in this citadel. 
Here it all is, just as you see, underground. You 
observed those big iron mushroom affairs six inches 
or so aboveground when we were up on the hill ?" 

"But I thought they were the observation posts of 
hidden guns— like that of the Big Bertha." 

"So they are — they are our own Big Berthas. 
Nevertheless, those observation posts are all the up- 
stairs there is to this citadel. What do you suppose 
would happen to the superstructure of a fort if it 
were hit by a shell which made a crater as large as the 
one we saw on the hill— fifty feet across and twenty 
feet deep ? Not much upstairs left, eh ?" 

So much for a classical education ! 

"And all the French troops eat and sleep and pray 
and drill down here? There are none billeted in 

"There's nobody in Verdun." 

"No old men and old women who still cling to their 
ruined firesides and creep out into the morning sun- 
shine after a night's bombardment?" 

"Not a single soul. It's a blanched city of the 

By this time it was well upon six o'clock and we 
stopped for a moment to view a mess hall where, 


seated at long refectory tables, about four hundred 
poilus were taking sustenance from great steaming 
casseroles of ragout placed in the centers of the ta- 
bles. Here indeed were the veritable heroes of Ver- 
dun! The indomitables ! I looked for halos, but 
found none but the fragrant encircling wreaths of the 
smoking ragout, which the heroes were bolting down 
like one o'clock. These men, however, were no callow 
youths, but tough-muscled, tanned and bearded vet- 
erans — or if they were youths they were veteran 
youths with lines in their faces and gray in their hair. 
As the commanding officer loomed in the doorway they 
sprang to their feet as one man. The colonel waved 
them back to their stew, explaining that here were 
some of their allies — American friends. What a 
cheer it was that rose! Some of the Americans 
frankly wiped their eyes. The colonel beamed round 
upon us all with a kind of indulgent fatherly grace. 
His blue eyes caressed his troops with affectionate 

And as we departed he commented: "You will 
please note one thing: I did not order that cheer. 
It sprang spontaneously from the hearts of my 

He continued to speak of America, of the deep 
fraternal tenderness existing in the hearts of the 
French for the splendid young army from over- 
seas; of the fine morale America was exhibiting 
in the business of food conservation; of the hope 


tHey Had in American aviation. Simple, brave, 
friendly words from a brave, friendly soul. 

We tramped on through vast resounding twilight 
caverns, slippery underfoot with mud and exuding 
large clammy dewdrops from the overarching walls. 
Sometimes it was pitch dark and a pocket torch or 
the outstretched hand of the colonel guided our 
course. Once we climbed by a kind of vertical ship's 
ladder fastened against the solid wall up into the 
platform of a monstrous subterranean gun which 
hurled annihilation miles away. For months the Ger- 
mans had been assiduously trying to locate that gun. 

It was the colonel who suggested the idea of Ver- 
dun as a Mecca for tourist parties after the war. 

'*Here they will come," he chuckled, "by train and 
ship loads from all over the civilized world to view 
this historic spot. They will passionately collect 
every old piece of shrapnel or cap or exploded cart- 
ridge, every stick, every brick, every stone. And 
when all of the veritable souvenirs have been snatched 
up doubtless our ingenious guardians of the citadel 
will resow the sacred ground with another artificial 
crop from a huge factory established hard by. 
'Twill be an industry. They will charge — let me see 
— three francs admission." And the colonel laughed 
heartily over his prophecy. 

"But they will not have the commanding officer of 
the citadel for their guide!" interjected M. Martin 


*^If they have the commanding officer of the citadel 
for their guide it will be five francs," said the colonel 
firmly. "Three francs for an ordinary tour; five 
francs with the commanding officer for guide. That 
is not too dear !" 

They elaborated the idea with gayety. Instead 
of great rough soldiers with clattering bayonets and 
clumping boots, the hollow corridors would rever- 
berate to soft, pretty laughter and the click-clack of 
ladies' high-heeled boots. And downy college lads 
and pig-tailed misses, with bespectacled tutors bear- 
ing Baedekers — no, mon Dieu, not Baedekers ; doubt- 
less American histories! — and peaceful and portly 
papas and mammas who vaguely remembered the 
great war in their extreme youth would stroll through 
these echoing passages pensively, hand in hand. For 
it would then be a public musee, this impregnable 
citadel, and its tragic battles a troubled dream of 

"But in the meantime," warned the colonel, laugh- 
ing, "I am going to charge five francs !" 

After the citadel he proceeded to show us the town, 
demolished beyond hope of reconstruction. Fine 
ancient f^9ades with filigree stonework delicate as 
thread lace; matchless old cathedral closes of the 
fourteenth century designed and wrought in solid 
granite by a master mason who was also a master 
builder ; fortification walls dating back to the days of 
the Caesars; medieval turrets beneath which trouba- 


dour soldier lovers sang ; glorious architecture of the 
Louis the Fourteenth period — ineffable masterpieces 
of structural art never to be reproduced on earth, 
they lay in smashed and huddled fragments on the 

We entered a church, its roof caved in, massive 
columns rent, holy statues razed, empty as an egg- 
shell — the result of a single cannon shot. 

^*Un coup de canon — and there you are!" the 
colonel commented grimly. 

We sped past the Big Canal and the Little Canal, 
tranquil stretches of twilight water, colored like gor- 
geous rose windows by a liberated gleam of the west- 
ering sun ; reminiscent of Venice, with their overhang- 
ing houses, now glooming ruins whose window holes 
stared like sightless sockets of men blinded in battle ; 
past the business and the residence sections of the 
city, dead and desolate as the tombs of the Pharaohs ; 
and finally wound up to the summit of a hill whence, 
the colonel explained, we could obtain a comprehen- 
sive view of the havoc the Huns had wrought. And 
when we had gazed our fill on that tragic exhibition 
of arrogance and hate, the colonel, like the fine artist 
he was, led us into a lovely quiet garden close whose 
darkening air was sweet with the scent of hyacinths, 
violets, crocuses and spring roses. And kneeling 
down on the damp turf and getting out his clasp- 
knife he proceeded to gather us each a nosegay in 
honor of the event. 


"For," he observed sagely, "flowers are better 
souvenirs than bits of iron shells." 

When we wondered how he came to be possessed of 
a garden on this deserted hill-top among the crum- 
bling ruins he explained it was his favorite point of 
observation. Knowing his love for the spot his men 
had secretly made this garden for him and tended it 
carefully and kept it in fresh bloom. 

Returning to the citadel we dined once more in the 
famous mess room, this time with the colonel and all 
his officers. It was nine o'clock when we finally took 
leave of him, standing bareheaded in the rain to 
assure us of the warm pleasure we had given him ! It 
had been an amazing day, crowded with images, emo- 
tions, events ; and not least amazing was this French 
colonel, commanding officer of the citadel of Verdun, 
bubbling over with gayety and humor, filled with pro- 
found tenderness and knowledge of life, a savant, 
learned in history and languages, a distinguished 
warrior who had been tried in the fiery furnace of 
battle, and yet simple-hearted as a child or one of 
his beloved poilus. 

It was long after midnight when we arrived in 
Nancy. Those two tiny fowls de luxe which cost 
eight dollars we had fallen on and devoured in the 
night. The following day, on our return to Paris, we 
learned that the battle to the north was still raging. 
But the Germans had been checked. Our troops, the 
ones we had seen moving north, were in the great 


struggle too. They were being heavily gassed and 

"Worse than Verdun!" said my informant, an 
American who had just returned from the British 
Front. "I saw several hundred of our fellows who 
had been mustard-gassed, lying in a field hospital. 
They lay on cots, their smarting eyes bandaged with 
soothing lotions, and they talked to each other in low 
broken whispers. It gave one a choke in the throat 
to see all those stalwarts lying flat, eyes bandaged, 
whispering to the comrades they could not see. I 
tell you, it made me feel mighty ugly toward the 
Hun ! I wished some of our peace propagandists at 
home might see that sight, hear those low, choking 
whispers !" 

"What were they talking about? Home? Mother? 
[Where is my wandering boy to-night ?" 

The officer gave a grim laugh. "Not by a jolly 
jugful! They were trying to fix the exact hour of 
the gas attack in order to reckon how soon they'd 
be back in the trenches to tackle the Hun!" 

This, then, was the spirit of the Americans who 
had entered the great fight. It was the spirit of the 
poilus before Verdun. It was the spirit of that in- 
domitable colonel who had replied that one hundred 
and ten thousand brave lives were not too many to 
give for such a cause. Verdun of to-day was the 
heritage of these men in khaki who lay with bandaged 
eyes and spoke in choked whispers. And the Ver- 


duns of to-morrow would be theirs by the same sign : 
The conquering force of spirit controlling the con- 
quering force of arms. 


This is a story of causes. And those causes pro- 
duced certain effects. I hope you will be patient with 
the causes — which, like all causes, are more or less 
dull — and read on until you come to the effects. 
There I can promise you some excitement. 

When, in the midst of the March offensive, so 
disastrous in its initial phase, General Foch took com- 
mand of the various Allied armies in France with the 
intention of merging those several distinct and often 
conflicting units into a single compact whole, one and 
indivisable, which should be at' least as supple and 
cohesive as that of the foe, nobody on the outside 
even dimly realized how fundamental, how far-reach- 
ing would be the changes involved. For after three 
years and a half of fighting as separate entities each 
nation had rutted deeply into its own peculiar man- 
ner of waging war. England held one sector; Bel- 
gium another; France another; and when American 
overseas soldiers landed in France they were assigned 
another portion of the line in Lorraine. 

And of his own particular sector each nation was 


supreme lord, of both the front and the back areas, 
the advanced and the rear war zones. That was his 
terrain, his stronghold. Therein he could do as he 
pleased, make war as seemed to him best, without let 
or hindrance. Thus England built up one policy of 
war strategy, of transportation and hospitalization ; 
France another ; America a third. There were three 
autonomies, three great war chiefs, three grand head- 
quarters. Each autonomy fought in a water-tight 
compartment, so to speak — water-tight so far as con- 
cerned the others ; but unfortunately not water-tight 
to the boche. 

So rigorously was this sense of independence held 
by each country, so distinctly did each nation cover 
its zone and its zone alone, that the fresh divisions 
held in reserve in back areas in case of a possible 
grand attack could not be stationed save in their own 
respective territories. French reserves could not be 
stationed in the British zone; British reserves could 
not be stationed in the French zone. Even if every 
sign pointed to a powerful massed action in one par- 
ticular sector, all the neighboring sector could do was 
to hold mobile troops, together with trains and 
camions, in its own area ready to move. Naturally 
this caused great delay; precious time was lost in 
conveying troops. 

For example, on March twenty-first, when the 
Fifth British Army fell back, fighting valiantly, be- 
fore the furious onslaught of a Hun host of quad- 


ruple strength, and a temporary breach was made in 
the line which opened the road to Paris, the French 
generals, Pelle and Humbert, rushed up their reserves 
from Picardy and Champagne. These two generals 
had received special instructions from the French 
High Command to study the different hypotheses of 
attack on the British Front and to hold themselves 
responsible for all consequences. An agreement had 
been entered into by the British and the French com- 
manders, fixing the sixth day of battle as the one 
when the French should intervene if necessary and 
come to the assistance of their British allies. But so 
fast and furious waxed the offensive, so urgent ap- 
peared the crisis to the onlooking French generals, 
that it was not six days but scarcely more than that 
number of hours when the blue casques of the French 
began to appear in the frightful melee and the Ger- 
man flood in full drive began to be stemmed. 

But it was a narrow squeak. And a good part of 
its narrowness consisted in the fact that fresh troops 
could not be held in readiness behind the danger zone, 
but had to be transported by camion, without their 
organizations behind them, often without sufficient 
guns or ammunition, from a long distance, and then 
hurled without a minute's rest into the very heart of 
the maelstrom. Had the French reserves been massed 
near at hand in the British back areas so that they 
could have gone immediately into action, there is no 
doubt that thousands of British soldiers, now Gerjnan 


prisoners, hundreds of wounded in hospitals, not to 
speak of the loss of guns, supplies and evacuation 
hospitals along the entire front line of that sector, 
would have been saved to the Allied arms. It was a 
bitter, grim lesson, and its price was high. But not 
too high to pay for a unified command. 

Now in the present engagements the Germans are 
meeting French, British, Americans and Italians, all 
within a few miles upon the same sector. They are 
intermingled and interwoven, as the need arises, regi- 
ment by regiment, company by company, and even 
man by man. The old partitions have been com- 
pletely torn down. 

One of the most distinctive features of the old 
regime was the hospitalization system. Here as else- 
where each nation carried on in its own fashion. The 
British evolved one type of organization ; the French 
another ; the Americans a third ; so that there existed 
side by side three separate networks of systems, each 
elaborate, ramified, complete, which never touched 
each other. In the British sector, for example, the 
seriously wounded are evacuated as rapidly as pos- 
sible back to England, where are located most of their 
big base hospitals. In the French system the evacu- 
ation hospitals are dotted all along the sector a few 
miles behind the firing line, with their large base and 
convalescent hospitals scattered throughout the in- 
terior, in the Midi or down on the Riviera, far from 
the rude northern winds. And when the Americans 


were assigned their sector in Lorraine they organized 
their system along similar lines. 

First come the evacuation hospitals, as close up 
behind the Front as possible, in order to catch the 
wounded man within two, three or four hours of the 
time he falls on the field. Here he is operated on 
without delay, rendered fit for transportation, and 
then shipped to some big base farther back in the 
rear. As the hospital formation recedes from the 
advance zone of the army, and therefore from acute 
danger and unstable tenure arising from likelihood 
of capture, shelling and bombing raids, the bases 
grow in size and elaboration, until at some points 
they are vast beehives, community centers with a 
capacity of ten to twenty thousand beds. Between 
the two extremes of the formation, the evacuation 
hospitals just behind that invisible and most uncer- 
tain quantity called the front line and the big solid 
base situated some hundreds of kilometers away — 
between these two types there exists the greatest dif- 

The base, as its name implies, is solid, immobile, 
permanent, steady as the Rock of Gibraltar or the 
skyscrapers of New York. The evacuation hospital, 
on the contrary, creeping up as close as possible be- 
hind the fighting forces is light, mobile, supple, easy 
to move, consisting largely of tents, stuff that can be 
loaded swiftly on trucks and motor lorries and car- 
ried away. If during a big push the line begins to 


sway perilously, to strain, to crack, with breaches 
showing here and there, and the order comes to retire, 
the evacuation hospital can fold up its tents like the 
Arab and silently steal away, not on camels but their 
modern substitutes, camions, with the orderlies on 
the rear truck, thumb to nose, wagging derisive fin- 
gers at the oncoming boche, who if he does break 
through will find — just nothing at all. 

That is one difference between evacuation and base 
hospitals. And there are others. The bases do good 
straight honest and honorable surgical and medical 
work of the type that is known in America. They 
have a fine regime, and this regime is rarely over- 
turned. They are, therefore, prosaic. But an evacu- 
ation hospital is dramatic, picturesque, full of poten- 
tialities and surprises, with tragedy, comedy and 
broad farce competing for first place every hour in 
the day. 

Here during a big offensive, when Allied and 
enemy wounded are pouring in in a continuous stream, 
surgeons, nurses and personnel work like fiends under 
a tremendous pressure, twelve, twenty-four, even 
forty-eight hours at a stretch. Here are to be wit- 
nessed in the operating room running fights with 
death as tense and thrilling as anything upon the 
battlefield. Sometimes the wounded man is exactly 
upon the great divide, hovering between life and 
death, an extra hair's weight capable of sending him 
to either side ; shrapnel in his chest, his lungs full of 


blood, breathing like a trumpeter, suffering from 
shock, exhaustion, lack of food — and still able to 
smile up into the surgeon's eyes and say faintly: 
"I'm all right, sir. Take that other poor guy. He's 
worse off than me." 

In cases like these, three minutes more or less in 
the length of the operation spells all the difference 
between time and eternity. The surgical team works 
with the perfect union of a football eleven. In their 
white aprons, caps and masks they look like priests 
performing a rite. The sweat stands out on their 
foreheads. Their expert fingers move like lightning, 
yet precise, unhurried, sure. 

In an operation of this kind, with life and death in 
the saddle and both riding hard, I have seen the 
assistant hold a watch on the operating team, as if 
it were a horse race, and call aloud the minutes, thus : 
"Three ! Five ! Seven ! Ten !" Two minutes too long, 
and the patient may expire on the table, or die of 
pneumonia from the added strain of ether on the 
lungs. Here margins are short and time more pre- 
cious than the weight of iron in rubies. 

Here also is to be seen what is known as the new 
war surgery. The wounded men are X-rayed before 
entering the operating room, and the exact position 
of the foreign body indicated by an indelible cross on 
the patient's skin. Consequently the surgeons need 
not go delving and exploring and guessing all over 
the landscape, but make a clean straight dive for 


the intruder. As the greatest danger in all these 
wounds is that of infection from the gas-gangrene 
germ, which infests the soil of France and therefore 
every particle of the soldier's clothes, and as in addi- 
tion the wounded are often forced to lie twelve, 
twenty-four or even thirty-six hours on the field on 
account of a violent enemy barrage, these wounds are 
often badly infected by this germ before ever they 
reach the evacuation hospital, near as that may be. 
In order, then, to prevent the further spread of the 
poison throughout the body the wound is laid wide 
open, the crushed and torn tissues shorn clean away, 
and a big clean wound created. This is thoroughly 
cleansed, packed with gauze soaked in Carrel solution, 
after which the entire area is wrapped in compresses, 
solidly bandaged, strapped or splinted — and the 
patient is ready to be shipped a hundred miles. 

From this it will be seen that it is at the outset of 
the game, after the man is first wounded, that the 
time element is most precious. Upon the speed with 
which an ambulance can deliver a soldier to the near- 
est evacuation hospital, divest him of his dirty, in- 
fected clothes and lay him on the life-saving operat- 
ing table depends largely the speed of his recovery 
and return to the lines. Delays there are bound to 
be — violent shelling of trenches, back areas or cross- 
roads, which may block every form of transportation 
for hours. And it is to counteract these unavoid- 
able delays that evacuation hospitals are creeping 


closer and closer up to the Front, risking bombard- 
ment and air raids in order to save a greater per- 
centage of life and limb. 

Behind these hospitals, then, stand the big solid 
bases, imposing, safe and sane. In front of them is 
still another formation. Briefly, it is something like 
this: A soldier is wounded on the field, in the 
trenches, in a wood. If alone, he applies his own first 
aid. If he has given it away to a comrade, he uses 
his belt for a tourniquet, his bootlaces — anything. 
If he cannot get at his wound or if he is knocked un- 
conscious, he lies until he is picked up by friend or 
foe. If he is not picked up he "goes West," joining 
the great host of immortal comrades, and all is well. 
That is the first step, where each individual attends 
to himself, is attended to by others or is lost. 

The second step consists of getting him to a dress- 
ing station, usually in some abri, where he is ban- 
daged, given a hot drink, an injection of anti- tetanus 
serum, and an iodine cross is marked on his forehead 
to indicate that he has received the same. If he 
is suffering acutely he is in addition given a morphia 
tablet. After this he is transported by ambulance 
to the divisional field hospital, where if he is in good 
condition he is not even unloaded but sent straight on 
to the evacuation hospital a few miles farther back. 
Thus he receives personal, regimental and divisional 
first aid before ever he strikes the evacuation hospital. 

All of which, if he is lucky, he may get inside of 


two or three hours, and be safely tucked away in his 
cot coming out from under ether, raving not of home 
and mother but of going over the top, shouting in 
stentorian accents: "Shoot 'em to hell, boys! The 
dirty skunks ! Shoot 'em to hell !" to the infinite de- 
light of his comrades in the tent ward, who cheer him 
on: "That's the stuff, buddy ! Attaboy! Eat 'em 

Finally, after much batting of wobbly eyelids, he 
opens his eyes feebly upon the white-capped nurse at 
the foot of the bed and murmurs in weak flat tones 
of pleasure : "Well, hello, chicken ! How'd you ever 
git here ? Gosh ! That's a foul taste in my mouth. 
Say, can a guy spit in this place?" And if he has 
come through thus far alive the chances are he will 
stick. He is the stuff that survives. 

This sketches in the large the hospital formation 
that the American Army built to care for its wounded 
behind the Lorraine sector under the old regime. 
All of the units, the string of evacuation hospitals, 
base hospitals and transportation facilities were 
designed and constructed on the principle of Ameri- 
ca's holding that particular sector. 

And then, presto. General Foch took command. 

That simple statement merits an entire paragraph 
all to itself, for it wiped out the old order and engen- 
dered a whole new realignment of policies and plans 
— in hospitalization especially. For manifestly if 
American troops were to be shifted here and there, 


up and down the Western Front as the need rose — as 
they must indeed be shifted if the Allied army was 
to be as swift and mobile as that of the foe — then a 
hospital formation away over east in the Lorraine 
country was not going to be a great advantage to 
American troops fighting up north round Montdidier 
and Chateau-Thierry. Nor could the American 
Army all at once, by the wave of a magic wand, con- 
jure into being another system. And even if it could 
there would still remain the question of conflicting 
French and American traffic over already congested 

Yet something had to be done to cover this situa- 
tion, and done at once, for our troops were already 
on the move. The French command, in collaboration 
with the American command, solved it in the only pos- 
sible fashion. It was decreed that when American 
troops fought in a French sector the wounded should 
be evacuated along with the French through the 
French system; when they fought with the British 
their wounded should be evacuated with the British 
to England. And so the affair stood. 

Americans went up to the British Front in Flan- 
ders. They went to the French Front in Picardy 
and Champagne. They stayed at home on their own 
Front in Lorraine. And the wounded began to be 
evacuated by all three systems. So far, so good. 
And yet, not altogether good. Good perhaps from 
a purely military point of view ; not so good from a 


human point of view. For the Americans in the 
French hospitals were lonesome. There was no use 
blinking the fact. They did not do well. Hearing 
never a word of their own language, unable to make 
their wants known, unable also to comprehend the 
soft babble of words by which the gentle French 
sisters tried to express their sympathy, they sick- 
ened, not so much from their wounds as from pure 
nostalgia and longing for the familiar home tongue. 

And one man died. But while he was ill in that 
strange hospital in a foreign land he kept a little 
journal which he called The Philosophy of Loneli- 
ness. From that little book of scribbled notes it ap- 
peared that this young soldier grieved and grieved 
for lack of someone to speak to him in his own tongue. 
And at last, when his isolation became intolerable, he 
decided to rise up and go in search of human com- 
panionship. But the tall woman in black, with the 
black veil, like one of the Fates, kept thrusting him 
back into bed. Her hands were gentle but strong. 
He told her, quite simply, that he only wanted some- 
body to talk to. She replied with a torrent of strange 
unintelligible sounds. And then he shouted aloud, in 
order to drown her babble and hear some good honest 
American speech. 

It was no use ; she could not comprehend ; she held 
him down, gently but firmly, pouring out over his 
fainting soul the soft strange babble of sounds. He 
swooned under the torment. The next day he tried 


again. Again the tall black-veiled figure thrust him 
down with hands that were gentle but strong. Again 
the hated sounds. Again he swooned. The third 
day, very weak but resolute, he recorded in his jour- 
nal his intention to try once more, and strove to rise. 
But over him, as ever, was that black unyielding 
figure, holding him down ; and so she held him, gentle, 
ruthless, unknowing, babbling into his ears those 
strange sounds until he died. 

In comment upon this incident Major Perkins, 
Chief Commissioner for Europe of the Red Cross, 
said: "Wlien I read the few pitiful pages of that 
journal of one of our men who had gone to his end 
in utter loneliness of soul I decided that something 
must be done. Either Americans must have their own 
hospitals or else we must put American nurses into 
French hospitals." 

Accordingly American women, nurses, visitors and 
aids, were assigned to fifty-two French hospitals con- 
taining American men. One day it chanced in a cer- 
tain French hospital that one of these aids, a bright, 
pretty girl, was working in a ward. And as she 
moved here and there, busy at her tasks, she sang 
softly under her breath the following cheerful ditty : 

"Where do we go from here, boys? 
Oh, where do we go from here?" 

"I don't want you to go anywhere from here!" 


came an abrupt voice from a bed behind her. Turn- 
ing she beheld a wounded American, a pale new- 
comer, regarding her from inflamed, bloodshot 

"Well," she replied, laughing, "I don't intend to 
go anywhere this very minute. What's the matter 
with your eyes? Gassed?" 

"Nothing," he replied laconically. "I've not slept 
for seventy-two hours. They shelled us up there for 
three days. That's where I got mine. I've been 
lying here watching you for an hour and trying to 
make up my mind which I wanted to do most — go to 
sleep or go on looking at you. And I decided I'd 
rather go on looking at you. I don't know," he 
added wistfully, "whether you consider that much of 
a compliment or not?" 

"I consider it the finest compliment I ever had in 
my life, bar none — from a man who hasn't slept for 
seventy-two hours." 

"Yes, but I haven't seen an American girl for five 
months. And so I figured it would rest my eyes more 
to look at you than it would to go to sleep." 

This is not an extraordinary case. Nine men out 
of ten would have felt the same. Their eyes were 
starved for the sight of American girls. But one 
woman spread out among many men did not go far. 
It was like trying to spread a small pat of butter 
over an acre of bread. However, it was the best 
best that could be done. French hospit^-ls could not 


be crammed with American workers. There was no 
place to put them. Their plants were already 
swamped with overwork. 

In the meantime the Army and the Red Cross were 
not idle. It was felt that something must be done not 
only for the morale of the lonely American soldiers 
but also to relieve the tremendous pressure on the 
French system, which was handling the wounded of 
three nations. Accordingly the Army went on a 
still hunt, not any the less urgent because it was 
still, for hospitals already equipped and in action 
that could be used for this new American sector. 
That sector, roughly described, extended from 
Amiens on the north down to Chateau-Thierry, and 
then eastward to Rheims, with Paris in a direct line 
to the rear. Paris, then, became the logical point 
for base hospitals. The American Army would de- 
pend, according to agreement, upon French evacua- 
tion hospitals immediately behind the lines, but as 
soon as possible it would convey its wounded back to 
Paris and thus relieve the congestion in the front 

But how to get hold of any hospital.'' Fortunately 
the Red Cross, the emergency department of the 
Army, had a nucleus of hospitals already to hand. 
This nucleus was composed of some half dozen plants 
— some large, some small, some militarized, some, 
civilian, but all in excellent running condition. In 
addition to this group it had in its warehouses in 


complete readiness for just such a crisis whole hos- 
pital units, complete in every detail, from tents down 
to the final safety-pin, ready to put into the field at 
any point the Army should designate. Moreover, it 
had the camions for transportation and the surgical 
teams and nurses at hand for instant summons by 

All this preparation had been done months before. 
Now this fine intensive long-sightedness began to yield 
its excellent fruit. For the Army gave orders to 
these hospitals to double, treble, quadruple their bed 
capacity and to hold themselves free for instant 
action. This was done. Just outside Paris another 
Red Cross tent hospital sprang into being. It sprang 
up almost overnight, with more than a thousand beds, 
its white tents dotting the field like mushrooms. 

In Europe the Red Cross has achieved an almost 
fantastic reputation for efficiency and speed — those 
two most commonplace factors of every successful 
business concern in America — and in this particular 
crisis, grave beyond all other crises so far as the wel- 
fare of our own fighting forces was concerned, it was 
going to need every ounce it possessed of both of those 
qualities. It was going to have the opportunity of 
saving hundreds of American lives. It did not know 
it. The Army did not know it. Nobody knew it. 
But so it was to be. A catastrophe was impending. 

You have not read thus far, I hope, without realiz- 
ing the supreme, the vital importance of those evac- 


uation hospitals crouching up there close behind the 
fighting lines. They are the life savers. Upon their 
nearness to the Front and the speed with which the 
wounded are delivered depend the success of the en- 
tire hospital system. They are the keystone of the 
arch. Let an army lose its string of evacuation hos- 
pitals and it loses not merely its physical property — 
a mere bagatelle — but also the power to save a large 
percentage of its wounded. For delay causes infec- 
tion; infection causes amputation, and too often 
causes death. 

To summarize briefly the elements of the situation : 
America, in common with the other Allies, had her 
own hospital system behind the Lorraine Sector, and 
when our troops moved up into the French sector it 
was agreed that the wounded should be evacuated 
through French hospitals ; to relieve the tremendous 
pressure a nucleus of Red Cross hospitals in Paris 
was constituted to drain this area. 

And now perhaps, with these cards in your hands, 
and in your head the general outlines of the May 
offensive, recalling especially the fact that the Ger- 
mans made an advance in that very sector of more 
kilometers than I like to recall, you may have a glim- 
mering of the nature of the blow that fell. Yes, the 
French lost a certain number of their front-line 
evacuation hospitals. They were in the area and they 
were captured. That was the catastrophe. 

It is the catastrophe that always happens when a 


considerable slice of territory is lost. It is what 
happened in Italy. It is what happened to the Brit- 
ish in March. It is what had often happened to the 
French. Now it was happening to the Americans. 
And that is why I am writing about it. What made 
the situation more acute was that the French were 
handling all of the wounded for that sector. Their 
remaining hospitals were rapidly being swamped. 
Each day the combat raged with increasing violence. 
What was to be done with our men ? Transport them 
clear back to Paris ? There was no other course. It 
was bitter hard, but inevitable. And the Army was 
mighty glad to have this port in the storm. 

And now let us glance for a moment at Chateau- 
Thierry and see what was taking place up there. On 
May thirtieth, upon this portion of the line the 
French were retreating, and two American divisions 
were swung in to stem, momentarily, the tide. All 
the world knows now which those two divisons were, 
for their exploits received the congratulations of 
General Pershing and of the French High Command. 
On June first, in they came, the first lot, twenty-four 
trainloads — fresh, cool, gay, hard-headed youngsters. 
They came with no organization behind them; not 
an American Army hospital in the sector; not an 
ambulance; not even a field dressing station. They 
came with nothing but the packs on their backs and 
their rifles in their hands — and five hours later they 
were holding the line. ........ 


On their way up, as they were being rushed 
through, their trains stopped at a station which we 

shall designate as X . Here lay several hundred 

British wounded waiting for a train to the rear. For 
it is one of the ugly necessities of war that, during 
an offensive, fresh guns and men take precedence over 
those who have been knocked out. And so these 
British wounded lay scattered about on litters in the 
station, on the platforms, on the grounds. 

First aid they had received, but nothing more. 
Their condition was piteous. At the arrest of the 
trains the Americans clambered down briskly from 
their places and began relieving the immediate wants 
of these unfortunates. 

"Maybe I'd best clear my poor chaps out of here," 
said an anxious British medical officer to an Ameri- 
can captain. "The sight of them may disturb your 

"On the contrary," replied the American grimly, 
"it's the best thing that could happen. It'll put the 
iron into their soul." 

And it did. Even the Hun was amazed at the 
sternness of that American reception committee. For 
though the bombardment was heavier than that dur- 
ing the height of the Verdun offensive, the shells fall- 
ing like iron hail less than five feet apart, with a 
low raking machine-gun fire that moved with auto- 
matic precision up and down the field, and the hurri- 
cane of high explosives and shrapnel and gas created 


an inferno compared to which Gettysburg was as 
calm as the Elysian Fields — yet those American 
troops did not falter. 

Step by step they disputed every foot of advance, 
clinging close to the ground, fighting for hours 
against an enemy six times their superior. The Ger- 
mans pushed, pushed again and kept on pushing. 
Assault succeeded assault, wave followed wave, each 
one more formidable as the Germans waxed wroth 
at the check. But the Americans held on ; they dug 
in with their spades ; they remanned their guns as 
their gunners fell, wiping out each successive enemy 
wave; they even reached out on either wing and re- 
trieved nests of batteries in the woods, and from 
these fresh points of vantage they popped away at 
the astounded and bewildered Hun, who could not 
believe that two divisions alone, and only parts of 
these, were blocking his advance. 

But as a matter of fact those two divisions were 
not alone. The whole United States of America stood 
solidly behind them, shoulder to shoulder, a vast shad- 
owy host, warming their hearts and strengthening 
their blows. 

Now these troops had been planted at that par- 
ticular point in the line merely to plug for the moment 
the passage while the French took up new defensive 
positions in the rear. But these aggressive, mordant 
young allies did not conceive that merely to stem the 
boche tide wa-s the whole of their duty. They 


dreamed better than that. So after surprising the 
enemy by their tenacity and cheek they proceeded 
to sail in on a lively counter-attack of their own 
and drive the intruder back. And drive him back 
they did, with a nerve, a grit, a kind of brisk keen 
joyousness, intrinsically western, that brought down 
the applause of the world. It was in fact a superb 
bit of fighting. And the best part of it all was that 
the men did not consider they had done anything fine 
or out of the way. That was on June first, second 
and third. 

A wounded machine gunner, with a hole through 
his chest, gave me his explanation of their valor. 

"It was like this," he said: "In those training 
camps back in the States they taught us a lot of 
things about war. And when we came over on this 
side they taught us a whole lot more. Seems like we 
learned about everything there was to know. But 
one thing they didn't teach us." 

He paused, matter-of-factly, to cough up some 

"What was it they didn't teach you?" I asked. 

"They didn't teach us how to quit. And so we 
didn't. We just kept on going!" He added reflec- 
tively: "It's their artillery that counts. Get those 
Dutchmen up close and there's nothing to them. We 
fought them off their feet." 

It was the veritable truth. 

But it is not to be conceived that this was a blood- 


less victory. The first day of June a thin stream of 
crimson began to trickle to the rear from the wounded 
American Army. And those first days that thin 
crimson stream trickled all the way from Chateau- 
Thierry to Paris, a distance of fifty-one miles, with- 
out intervention or hospital care. One Red Cross 
hospital there was, indeed, but soon this was swamped. 
Men with nothing beyond first-aid bandages began 
pouring into the Paris hospitals. It was one of those 
inevitable conditions of war that are bound to occur 
when evacuation hospitals are lost. 

Close up behind the Front the French evacuation 
hospitals, diminished in number, crippled in resources, 
were already glutted with British, French and Ameri- 
can wounded and gassed. They lay on litters in the 
corridors, the doorways, the verandas, and overflowed 
into the yards and along the roadsides. Several 
American women canteeners came to help the French 
in this dire emergency. They found most of the per- 
sonnel of one hospital already flown, the town being 
under direct shell fire. And for several days in that 
swamped hospital, together with a few brave French 
doctors and nurses, these American volunteers toiled 
like impassioned fiends day and night; ran the 
kitchen, cooked the meals, served out hot coffee, 
bathed the wounded, bandaged fresh amputations, 
held up dying heads, wrote letters, injected morphine, 
assisted at operations, and continued their labors 
tirelessly hour after hour, in an atmosphere of inde- 


scribable filth, impregnated with the odors of gas 

Twice, two nights in succession, the Red Cross 
representative in that sector tore at full speed down 
to Paris, returning with a camion load of surgical 
supplies, ether and bandages. And when they arrived 
such was the pressure of the hour that the surgeons 
themselves ran out from their operating tables, dived 
their hands down into the precious box, caught up an 
armload and ran back, shouting directions over their 

It was during this period of stress that a noble idea 
occurred to the Red Cross representative, which he 
proceeded to act upon at once. 

A short distance away was an abandoned French 
hospital, empty, its beds scarce cold. He drove over 
and asked to rent it. 

"What for?" demanded the French authorities. 

"To use for our American wounded. To relieve 
the pressure. To take them off your hands." 

And he struck a bargain then and there. That 
accomplished, once more he scorched the road to 
Paris. This time he loaded up fifteen tons of stuff — 
one of those complete hospital units the Red Cross 
had stored in its warehouses against just such a crisis 
as this. That unit contained tents, beds, bandages, 
nitro-oxide plants, ether, instruments, and the 
entire equipment for three surgical teams. By tele- 
phone, surgeons and nurses were summoned to hurry 


out by automobile. The representative himself 
hastened back to the other end. But while he was 
still on the way, by one of those swift military 
changes the hospital he had rented became untenable 
by reason of a shift of the American troops into 
another army zone. 

So now he had an outfit, but no plant. Nothing 
daunted, for in his automobile he was still a lap or so 
ahead of his slower convoy, he started to comb the 
countryside for another hospital. And so successful 
were his efforts that by the time his material caught 
up with him he was able to direct it to a new loca- 
tion. Then came the installation of the plant. A 
chateau had been taken over for headquarters, oper- 
ating and X-ray rooms. Behind the house in a fair 
open field back by cool pine woods were ranged the 
hospital tents, each with a capacity of about fifty 

And now began a piece of spectacular teamwork. 
A detachment of soldiers began policing — cleaning up 
— the grounds; the nurses in the operating room 
commenced to boil their instruments ; the sergeant 
began tacking up on the valuable tapestried walls 
lengths of white oilcloth; in the kitchen, the deep- 
seated heart of it all, the dietitian had already started 
the fire and marshaled her minions ; the night teams 
of surgeons donned caps and aprons — and when a 
gray dust-covered army limousine raced up and the 
chief surgeon of that sector crisply demanded "How 


soon do you figure you can handle some wounded?" 
the commanding officer of the new evacuation hospital 
responded: "As soon as you like. Shoot 'em right 

And inside of an hour the army ambulances began 
to roll in and the stretcher bearers began to lift out 
the litters with the recumbent immobile figures, 
wrapped in blankets and many of them caked with 
mud and blood. 

On June first the Americans began to attack. By 
June fourth this new Red Cross evacuation hospital 
had been installed behind Chateau-Thierry and was 
operating day and night on Americans only. And 
thus the thin stream of crimson, which for three days 
had trickled from the front lines practically without 
interruption clear back to Paris, was abruptly tour- 
niqueted. It was a fine piece of emergency work and 
an excellent example of the complete collaboration be- 
tween the Army and the Red Cross. The prepared- 
ness of this latter organization, its warehouses 
stacked to the roof with extra supplies so that it 
could multiply its entire hospital bed capacity by six 
without a strain; its camion service ready to trans- 
port these goods to any designated point in the ad- 
vance zone; and these two facilities, materials and 
transportation put absolutely at the command of the 
Army in a vital and trying hour went far to avert 
what might have been a tragedy. 

It was a brilliant sunshiny day when I arrived nl 


this Red Cross evacuation hospital behind Chateau- 
Thierry. At the moment there was a lull on the 
Front. Twice during the month of June the Germans 
had sought by means of smoke barrages and pontoons 
to cross the Marne, that river of ill omen to Prussian 
hopes, and twice the Americans had held them. And 
so aggressively had these gay yet austere youngsters 
fought that it was a common jest along that sector 
that the Kaiser was seeking peace terms. 

There were now other units there, and they divided 
the honors with the veteran poilus who flanked them 
on either side. 

The hospital itself, situated in a splendid grove of 
pines and purple beeches, was by this time operating 
as smoothly as if it had been established months in- 
stead of days. The entire bed capacity of that plant 
I may not give, but an idea of its elasticity may be 
obtained from the fact that upon one night, after an 
evacuation, the patients numbered three, and upon a 
subsequent night, during a rush, the kitchen fed more 
than nine hundred persons and showed no signs of 
pegging out. 

Upon the afternoon of my arrival patients were 
scattered throughout many of the wards, bringing 
up the total to quite a considerable figure. In com- 
pany with the commanding officer. Major M , I 

had gone the rounds of the tents. Suddenly in the 
midst of a remark he was called to the telephone. 

It was long distance — that is to say, it was some 


headquarters up behind the lines. The major re- 
turned with a sober face. 

"It's an order," said he, "to clean out everybody, 
make a clean sweep, get ready the beds. I suppose 
you can guess what that means." 

"An attack?" 

"Well, I dare say the boche will try to pull off 
something. They've been massing up behind Chateau- 
Thierry now for days. But they're not the only ones 
that have been massing, and don't you forget it. 
Our men on this side the Marne are lying in wait, a 
cordial little reception party, and if some of their 
scoundrels do cross the river they'll never live to tell 
the tale !" He laughed — the cheerful buoyant laugh 
of utter confidence which prevails upon the Front. 
"But this order means that we'll evacuate this eve- 
ning. It's better for the men, even the serious cases, 
to be sent back to a quiet base where they can have 
constant attention ; they must have it, and we can't 
possibly give it to them here. In the midst of a big 
fight our hands are full with the fresh influx. More- 
over, it stands to reason that the sooner we can get a 
patient in fit shape to travel out of this cyclone belt 
the better it is for all concerned. And yet it's the 
hardest thing in the world to let some of these men 
go. Some are special cases where we've fought for 
their lives. We'd like to guard them through the 
critical stage. As for the nurses, they cry like babies 
when they have to surrender some of their pets. 


You'll see to-night. Just watch my staff ; see if they 
don't try to hang on to some of the men." 

This was about five in the afternoon. He disap- 
peared into the chateau to have a conference with his 
head nurse upon supplies. A few minutes later. 

Colonel X , chief surgeon of all the American 

forces in that center, stepped down from his limou- 
sine, and the first words with which he greeted the 
major were these : "How many beds have you filled ?" 

The major gave the budget of the day. 

"Well, clean them right out. If you've not suffi- 
cient ambulances, send down the line to X . But 

get the men out of here to-night. Get your beds free. 
What about supplies — enough to stand a pretty big 
racket ? How are you on ether ?" 

Major M gave the account of his plant. 

Everything was in perfect readiness for the storm. 

"Fine!" pronounced the colonel. "Well, I've got 
to beat it. This is my busy day." 

"Just when and where do you think the Germans 
are going to attack ?" I ventured to put in my oar. 

The colonel looked me up and down with a whim- 
sical smile. Women are rare phenomena in the land- 
scape of the Front. When they do arrive so far from 
their natural habitat, the safe and sober rear, it is 
taken for granted they are there with just and suffi- 
cient cause, and they are treated with a deference, a 
consideration and a fine camaraderie that are good 
to experience. 


"If I knew the exact reply to your very pertinent 
question," laughed he, "I'd not be standing here; 
I'd be burning the road to G. H. Q. ; and we'd put 
something over on the boche to remember us by. As 
it is, we can only say things seem mighty imminent. 
They're massing guns and effectives. So are we. 
Just where the point of the thrust will come no man 
can say. Your guess is as good as mine. But we've 
got to be ready. And we are ! Wait. I'll show you 
something. But you mustn't put it in the Post !" 

Whereupon he sat himself down, hauled out his 
secret map and his secret notebook — a small black, 
leather-bound affair, in which were jotted cryptic 
figures representing positions and numbers of Ameri- 
can forces which a German spy would have bartered 
his worthless soul to possess ; and with these two, the 
map and the notebook, he outlined his plan of cam- 
paign in the event of a German drive. Here and 
there were troops, American troops. Here and there 
behind them were American hospitals, each one capa- 
ble of caring for so many wounded each day. All 
together they represented an ample bed capacity. 
Those first unorganized days of June were well over ; 
by now the Army had arranged a hospital system 
that effectively drained the sector. And not only 
that — alternative positions had been located in case 
the evacuation hospitals had to clear out and rein- 
stall farther to the rear. Every emergency had been 
planned for. All was indicated on that secret map. 


"By the way, major," concluded the colonel, snap- 
ping to his little black notebook as he rose, "how 
soon could you up-stakes and move?" 

The major stated the exact number of hours, and 
when I say that that number amounted to less than 
three hundred minutes you may realize how simple 
and supple are the component parts of such a plant. 
"I'll have the sergeant get out the tent bags," he 
added, "and stack them outside the tents." 

"May as well be ready," agreed the colonel, step- 
ping into his car. "Not that there's the slightest 
chance in the world that the boche will break through, 
but it would be criminal not to be prepared." 

"We'll be prepared, sir," promised the major 

"Good. They may start something about two in 
the morning. So long!" 

"That's two warnings," said the major amusedly 
as the colonel's car rolled away. 

Later, at mess out in the chateau grounds in a tent, 
with the westering sun over behind the dark pine 
woods, a great globe of fire drowning the fields and 
the tents in a fine golden light, we received a third. 
This time it came in the form of a note from the 
French headquarters hard by. It was in French and 
it read: 

"We have the honor to announce to you that an 
important German attack is hourly expected in our 
sector. It will be advisable for you to evacuate in- 


stantly as many patients as you possibly can, in 
order to have the greatest number of beds free for 
the emergency." 

"Looks as if the boche really meant business," 
commented the major. "Do you care to watch the 
evacuation ? If so I recommend the rear steps of the 
chateau as a good reviewing stand." 

I took my place as directed, well removed from 
the traffic. Upon the road beneath just in front of 
the hospital tents were lined up a long string of 
ambulances. A sergeant was in charge of the affair. 
Inside the tents, orderlies and nurses had their hands 
full preparing the men for transportation. Some 
of the patients were up, superintending their own 
moving; some, in vivid pink-striped Red Cross pa- 
jamas — the gift of some gay soul — were sitting on 
their cots, swinging bare legs and shouting for foot- 
gear; some, disdaining such effete trappings of civi- 
lization, had wrapped the drapery of their couches 
about them, squaw-wise, and were standing barefoot 
on the grass outside enjoying the festal scene. It 
was like a great gipsy encampment: 

Still farther down the road one man had boldly 
snatched another's sole garment of attire, a dressing 
robe, and the owner, reduced to his birthday suit, 
started a chase. Ensued a picturesque race. This, 
however, was but a brief kaleidoscopic film, which 
danced across the road for a minute like a Greek 
frieze, and was abruptly censored by the sergeant. 


A nurse appeared at the flap of the tent, an anxious 
look in her eye. She caught sight of the tall statu- 
esque Indian who, with his blanket hunched well round 
his head and his pyjamas swelling gently in the 
evening breeze, stood rubbing one big bare foot lux- 
uriously over the other big bare foot and discoursing 
to another young Indian buck thus : 

"Yes, sir, I'm telling you, friend, I sure thought 
the end had come. "There I was, sitting under a little 
short tree by the road writing home to my mother. 
I'd just finished writing *Well, mamma, I've come 
through lucky so far,' and looked up. There was a 
whole wagonload of grenades passing, and at that 
minute a shell burst in the road right ahead. And 
I'm telling you, friend, suddenly it seemed like all the 
world rose up in the air but me " 

"You, Fred Murphy," interrupted the nurse se- 
verely. "Where are those slippers I gave you? 
Don't you know you can't travel in bare feet.'' It 
isn't done in France !" 

"Miles too small for my trilbies," explained Mur- 
phy succinctly. He turned his face toward her a 
brief instant and then, turning it back, continued 

without a halt : " but me, and I went down. And 

when the lieutenant helped me to my feet he said that 
nobody but a damn fool or a Marine could sit under 
a little short tree like that writing letters while a 
whole wagonload of grenades exploded, and get away 
with it. And he showed me the tree top blowed clear 


•down the valley and sitting up there like an open 

A medical officer came hurrying over to the nurse. 

"The orderly said you wanted me. What is it?" 

"It's that chest case. He can't go. He's on the 
list, but there must be some mistake. Oh, I 
think it's terrible to send a man on the road like 

They passed into the deeper gloom of the tent. I 
followed. Near the door on a cot sat a doughboy, a 
shoulder case, garbed as per army regulation as far 
as his waist, and from thence upward his fine torso 
naked save for strappings and splints which held his 
arm in an immobile apparatus. 

With his free hand he was pawing wildly among 
the effects of his kit, while he exclaimed in loud ex- 
cited tones, "I can't find it! I never got it. If I 
had it I'd remember it, wouldn't I? Say, wouldn't 
a guy remember a thing like that? I guess yes! 
You never gave it to me — see?" 

The orderly — later killed when the hospital was 
bombed by boche planes — was down on his haunches 
lacing up the patient's boots. He looked up with a 

"What's biting you, buddy? The last thing I 
gave you was slum, and I notice you wolfed that down 
like one o'clock." 

"It's my shrapnel. The piece the doctor took outa 
me. He promised before he put me to sleep on the 


operating table to pin it onto my shirt. Say, look 
in my pocket, will you?" 

The orderly obliged. But the shrapnel was not 
there. Just then the doctor passed. "Say, captain, 
did you operate on this guy ? He says you promised 
to save his shrapnel." 

The doctor squinted uncertainly through the 

"Yes, sir, you did !" affirmed the private with con- 
fidence. "And you promised, sir, to pin the shrapnel 
onto my shirt." 

"That's right. I remember now, old man." A 
look passed between the young surgeon and the or- 
derly. Was it a wink that caused the orderly's left 
eyelid to droop so flat upon his cheek? 

"Sir, shall I go get his shrapnel? I think I know 
where it's at." 

"Good!" said the surgeon, laughter in his voice. 
"You'll find it wrapped in a piece of gauze." 

"Yes, sir." 

The orderly departed. But just outside the tent 
he paused, dived down into his pocket, brought up 
several objects, examined them attentively, and then 
hurried back to the rear entrance, where by the light 
of an electric torch the nurse was making up her 

"S-s-t! Gimme a gauze compress, sister!" said a 
husky voice in her ear. Absently she pointed to a 
parcel on the table. The orderly helped himself. 


The next moment he was back in the front tent. 

"Here you are, buddy! That'll hold you for a 
while!" And he deposited an object twisted up in a 
bit of gauze in the soldier's eager palm. It was a 
copper bullet the size of a marble. 

"Oh, boy!" ejaculated the private in deep ecstatic 
joy. "She's a whale! A regular Big Bertha! No 
wonder she stopped me. Say, captain," he hailed the 
surgeon who was passing, "can't I go back to my 
outfit? I don't want to lose that gang. And I 
feel fine." 

The orderly chuckled as he warped his man's free 
arm into the flannel shirt. "Feel so darned nifty 
you'd like to go out and chop down a couple or three 
trees just for sport — hey?" 

Outside, upon the road, the ambulances were load- 
ing rapidly and rumbling off into the gloom. The 
sergeant, the man of the hour, oversaw all. 

"Gently there !" This to the brancardiers as they 
lifted a litter with a recumbent figure swathed in 
blankets and shot it into the ambulance. "You have 
three in there?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Well, beat it! Now how many more are there 

From the steps of the chateau Major M , in 

white cap and operating apron, surveyed the scene. 
The procession passed briskly. 

Ambulances rolled up, loaded and disappeared. 


Not a light showed. The men were mere dusky 
patches of gloom moving through denser gloom. 
Overhead the sky was equally dark, fitting the earth 
close, like the stopper of a bottle. 

"I wonder how it feels," I said, "to be lying in the 
little black interior of those ambulances and rumbling 
off to God knows where." 

"Sometimes very dramatic things happen in those 
same little black interiors," observed the major 

An orderly approached, saluted the major. 

"Sir, there's a light shining out of one of the upper 
windows. It makes quite a projection. One of the 
drivers marked it far down the road." 

"Go up and tell the nurse to close the shutter," 
commanded the major tersely. "Tell her to go all 
over the house. We don't want a bomb dropped in 
the midst of this party." 

"Have you ever had any disagreeable experiences 
with wounded German prisoners ?" I inquired. 

"We've not had many of their wounded, but one 
night we got in a Prussian lieutenant. I put him in 
a tent with a bunch of Germans, all in pretty bad 
shape. He shouted and swore like a trooper for be- 
ing subjected to the hideous ignominy of having to 
breathe the same polluted air as his men. 'Twas an 
American atrocity ! He said he was a Prussian offi- 
cer, and he haughtily demanded to be changed to an 
officers' ward." 


"And what did you do? Assign him to a private 
room with a special nurse and send up iced cham- 
pagne ?" 

"Something like that ! I ordered his cot changed, 
and I placed him between two poor German devils 
who were dying of gas gangrene. They smelled to 
heaven! I thought if our own nurses could tend to 
those fellows it might do his lord-highmightiness good 
to lie between 'em for a while! In contrast to his 
conduct I had a young American lieutenant out in 
one of the tents, Ward B, and it was not until he was 
evacuated that I learned he was an officer. 

" 'Why, lieutenant,' I said, *why didn't you tell 
me? I'd have placed you in the officers' ward.' 

" 'Oh, that's all right, sir,' he laughed. 'What's 
good enough for my men is good enough for me.' 
And that is the difference in a nutshell between 
autocracy and democracy." 

One of the medical staff approached hurriedly. 
"Sir, I'd like to keep some few of these cases. They're 
in bad shape. I hate to start them on the road. It 
— it's against my conscience." 

"All right. Use your own discretion. You heard 
the orders, though — to make a clean sweep. It may 
seem hard, but the men will receive better attention 
than we'll be able to give them once the rush begins. 
But keep them if you feel you should." 

With a breath of relief the officer turned away to 
countermand his order. 


"Sergeant!" called the major. 

"Here, sir !" came a steady reliable voice from the 

"Put all the wounded that are left into one tent — 
Ward A. How many have you?" 

"About twenty-five, sir." 

"Good. Tell your men to clean up all the rest of 
the wards and get them into condition. And, ser- 
geant " 

"Yes, sir." 

"Where are those tent bags — the ones in which we 
pack the tents ?" 

"Upstairs in the storeroom, sir." 

*'Get them down. Place one outside each tent and 
instruct your men in their use. Maybe you'd better 
assign a patrol on this road to-night." 

"Yes, sir. The officer of the day has already 
spoken to me about it, sir." 

"All right, sergeant. Then I guess we're about 
ready for whatever may turn up. You'd better try 
to snatch some sleep." 

"I think I'd rather stay up, sir, if you don't mind." 

The sergeant saluted. We went inside. Already 
the surgeons and the nurses had sought their re- 
spective quarters to summon what sleep they might 
before the storm broke. I said good night also, and 
was conveyed to my billet in the village, the major 
promising to have me roused if anything occurred. 
By now the sky was clear, a deep soft firmament of 


gleaming stars which blinked friendly reassurance 
to the troubled earth atom below. 

"It's all right !" they seemed mutely to say. "See, 
we're still here ! It's all right !" 

The wind was toward the Germans. Therefore, 
though already the big guns had waked to their 
nightly orchestra, and vivid lightninglike flashes from 
their flaming throats played constantly across the 
low horizon, yet not a single sound could be heard. 
All through the night, when at intervals I rose to 
watch, that leaping devil's dance played noiselessly 
across the rosy sky. It was uncanny — lightning 
without thunder. Where was the sound? In the 
upper air reaches ? 

The next morning I woke to discover I had not 
been called. The drive, then, had not materialized. 
At the hospital I found that such was even the case. 
There was a smile in the air, and a whisper that the 
Americans, the previous night, had dumped twelve 
thousand gas shells down upon the Hun just as he 
was clambering over the top. The push for the mo- 
ment was averted. Nevertheless a few wounded were 
trickling in, and upstairs in the officers' ward I found 
two bed-fast lieutenants. One, by his soft velvety 
drawl, was a Southerner. Later I learned his exact 
habitat was Memphis, Tennessee. The other young 
officer apparently had been recounting some knavery 
of the boche, for with my hand on the open door I 
heard the Tennesseean respond fervidly : "Yes, suh. 


They're dirty snakes. You can't have no commerce 
with them. Yuh just got to kill their souls !" 

I drew back and listened, for the Tennesseean was 
beginning a tale. 

"Yes, suh," his cool, placid voice flowed on, "they 
was murderin' us in that woods. They'd got us in a 
pocket and from nests of machine guns they was 
shellin' us three ways. We'd had no meat for over 
two days. It was tough, I'm tellin' yuh, suh. So 
that night I took my sergeant and went foraging in 
the village. It was deserted and the shells was fall- 
ing right lively. Presently I shoved open the door of 
a barn, and there was a fine fat hawg rooting away 

" ^Sergeant,' I says, *that hawg in there tried to 
bite me.' 

" 'Well, suh,' says the sergeant, 'there ain't no 
French hawg born that can bite my lieutenant and 
get aw^y with it. We-all ain't going to stand that 
from no hawg. No, suh !' And so that night we had 
a fine mess of po'k chops. Yes, suh, those po'k chops 
certainly tasted grand." 

I slipped inside to have a look at the raconteur. 
He was a tall, lean, lank, freckled, solemn-looking 
young gentleman, with a broken ankle and a quiz- 
zical brown eye. Somehow he reminded me of 

"Yes, suh," he was remarking, "this sure is one 
(damn funny man's wah." After I had established 


myself I demanded what led him to such a cynical 
conclusion. But he refused to be drawn, and 
asked instead the condition of a patient in the 
adjoining shock ward. I told him the man was 

"I'm sure sorry to heah that," he said simply. 
"That man was in my outfit and a bettah boy never 
spit. He got his after I came in. I left a squad of 
five in a dugout on the side of a knoll and I told 
them not to stir until the shelling let up. Well, this 
boy says it got pretty hot and crowded inside and 
he stepped out a minute to breathe. And that very 
minute a shell dropped. He might have saved his life 
if he'd bandaged his leg right off; but no, suh, he 
told me he couldn't think of nothing but hauling those 
poor fellows from that caved-in wreck — and him with 
one leg blowed off. That boy deserves a Croix de 
Guerre. I'm goin' to write to his mothah." 

I was called away for a few minutes, and when I 
returned the lieutenant was embarked upon another 

"Yes, suh, I just couldn't bear to see that boy's 
body lyin' out in the blisterin' sun. By the clothes 
he was a Marine, and I expect he'd been hangin' up 
against that bob-wire some time. I didn't care if it 
was No Man's Land. It wasn't no fit land for an 
American's body to be lyin' out in the sun, and so I 
started out to fetch it in. 

" 'Lemme go, lieutenant !' one of my outfit says. 


I've got the finest outfit of boys, miss, you ever laid 
eyes on." 

"Maybe that's because they've got such a fine lieu- 
tenant!" I said slyly. 

"No, suh, that isn't it at all !" he retorted earnestly. 
"Well, I says to him: *Man, I can't ask for volun- 
teers for this. It's too danged dangerous.* And 
that boy, he says to me : ^Shucks, lieutenant ! I'll 
die for yuh any day with pleasure. But for God's 
sake, don't leave me lie out there like a dawg.' So I 
promised, and he went out and fetched the Marine 
in. Two hours later that boy was shot straight be- 
tween the eyes by a sniper's bullet. I remembered 
what he'd said: 'For God's sake, lieutenant, don't 
leave my body lie out like that' — and it kind of hurt 
my soul. So I sent him back to the rear. And we 
buried that boy with honahs. Yes, suh, this sure is 
one damn funny man's wah !" 

Downstairs the hospital seemed drowned in a 
drowsy Sabbath calm. Not a breath stirred. Roses 
drooped in the hot stillness. High overhead in a 
light azure sky Allied planes swam like gnats across a 
sun-lit stretch of water. To complete the note of 
peace two stray hounds dreamed on the steps or 
snapped languidly at blue-bottle flies. Who said 
there was a world war on hand? And yet, late the 
night before, still another warning had come over 
the wires, and the remaining twenty-five patients 
had been hurriedly transported to safer climes. 


Down the road thousands of camions were passing, 
a steady sluggish stream. The level, poplar-bordered 
highway was alive with them as far as the eye could 
see. Camions filled with French troops ; camions filled 
with artillery, guns, guns, guns ; camions filled with 
horses, two to a vehicle. And after that stream of 
blue casques had flowed by, with scarcely a minute's 
interval, came another stream — United States khaki, 
going up on the line. The heavy American lorries 
thundered by in a cloud of dust, their wheels tearing 
the gravel out of the roads. The men were covered 
with a coating of dust, thick as if they had come 
through a desert sandstorm. Their eye-lashes were 
powdered gray ; their eyebrows were bleached white ; 
their fresh skins were burned brick red; and their 
eyes, unprotected by that abominable visorless over- 
seas cap, were inflamed with dust and fatigue and 
lack of sleep. And yet how they hurrahed, leaning 
far out to yell as they flashed by ! They were going 
into hell, and they knew it. 

They had no illusions about war. But the sight 
of those dirty, sweaty, confident men thrilled us. 

At five, in front of the chateau, the chaplain read 
the burial service over the hero who had given his 
life to save his comrades in the dugout. Over the 
pine box lay the folds of the flag, a mantle of glory. 
Upon the rude casket some friend had placed a cross 
of crimson ramblers, the rich splendor of their hue 
and their fragrance symbolizing mutely the beauty 


of soul of him who lay underneath. Red roses for 
those who die in youth for their country! They 
seemed to burn in the quiet air. Their fragrance 
mounted like rare incense. The chaplain read the 
immortal words of hope : "I am the resurrection and 
the life : he that believeth in me, though he were dead, 
yet shall he live. . . ." High overhead the faint 
reassuring drone of Allied planes mingled with the 
murmur of the detachment of soldiers, who with bared 
heads repeated softly "Our Father who art in Heaven 
. . ." while off on the side lines stood a group of 
French children, awed, curious, respectful, with 
bunches of field daisies clutched tightly in their hands, 
with which, after the Americains had departed, they 
proposed to decorate the strange soldier's grave. 

Later, in search of consolation, I wandered back 
to the Tennesseean's ward. I was not disappointed. 
That liquid drawl flowed on, soft as the Mississippi 
at twilight. 

"Yes, suh, we called that outfit the Midnight Regi- 
ment. I reckon yuh-all heard of them; they was 

stationed a while at B . They was officered with 

white folks, and a friend of mine was major. Well, 
suh, they put that regiment alongside some French 
niggers from Upper Africa. Yuh'd think those two 
sets would amalgamate, coming from the same family 
tree. But no, suh! There was just one perpetual 
uproar. They was a-hackin' and a-choppin' each up 
with knives from mawning until night! Yuh nevah 


heard such takin's-on. And the officers couldn't find 
what was the row nohow. So one night the major, 
he says to his sergeant, a big negro : 

" 'Sergeant,' says he, *I want yuh to go out and 
make a private investigation of just what's the 
trouble between yuh Americans and those French 
niggers, and hand in a confidential report.' 

" 'I don't need to go out and make no 'vestigation, 
major,' says that sergeant. *I can report to yuh 
whut-alPs the trouble right now. Yes^ suh !' 

" 'All right, sergeant. What is it ?' 

" 'Well, suh, it's like this : Evah since this heah 
Midnight Regiment come over to France and been 
a-takin' part in this man's wah, us-all's been hearin' 
the white folks talkin' French. All the white folks 
gettin' to talkin' French. Yes, suh. And now we 
come up alongside these strange nigger folks and find 
them gabblin' French too ! And when niggers goes to 
gittin' stuck up like that and puttin' on proud white 
folks' airs they's jest naturally boun' to be trouble! 
Yes, suh, that's whut it is !' " 

The afternoon shaded gently into night ; the night's 
dark hours slipped by, silent as bats' wings ; morning 
came again, calm, sunshiny — and still no threat of 
attack. It was ominous, menacing. The hospital 
staff rested with taut nerves, like a football team 
ready at a given signal to spring into intense action. 
But the signal was withheld. 

Then suddenly one July morning about two o'clock 


the storm burst. The atmosphere trembled and 
shook to the clamor of mighty guns. Even in Paris, 
fifty-one miles away, their deep-throated orchestra 
could be heard. Fluff! Fluff! Fluff-pluff! Dis- 
tant, yet clear, unmistakable, sounded those soft and 
sinister volleys through the night. Not since the 
Battle of the Marne in 1914 had Parisians heard suchi 
a violent bombardment. Some flew to the telephone. 
Was it a Gotha raid? Was that the outer anti- 
aircraft barrage ? No. It was the long-delayed July 


The third phase of the great German offensive of 
1918 began with the first light of dawn on July the 
fifteenth. In Paris, fifty-one miles behind Chateau- 
Thierry, that distant bombardment, violent beyond 
all precedent, could be distinctly heard. It could be 
heard, but the explosions were not like real explosions. 
They were like tiny, far-away echoes, ghosts of ex- 
plosions — as if baseballs were being hurled with ex- 
treme force against a wall heavily padded with cotton 
wool. Pluff! Pluff-pluff! Pluff! Pluff! Pluff! 
Pluff ! Distinct, yet muted, they came, those distant 
thuds ; denatured, so to speak, with all the sound vio- 
lence extracted. 

Parisians rose from their beds, stepped to the win- 
dows and leaned from their casements to listen. But 
immediately the nearer night noises of the city 
eclipsed those distant ghost roars of battle. The 
whir of a belated taxi through the deserted streets, 
the hollow ring of footsteps on the pavement, even the 
blinking of an eyelid — and those soft sinister booms 
were completely blotted out. But back in bed once 



more, with the windows shutting out the city sounds, 
the dull pounding commenced again, steady, persist- 
ent as the beat of the blood in the arteries: Fluff! 
Pluff-pluff! Fluff! 

Thus at Faris, the heart of the world. But up at 
Chateau-Thierry, the seat of alarms, it was a vastly 
different affair. There was nothing dim, distant, dis- 
solved, denatured or cotton-woolly about the can- 
nonading in that sector. It was the storm center of 
the tornado. The air was thick with clamor. The 
heavy guns bellowed incessantly. In order to hear 
each other men had to lean close and shout, and then 
it was only by the lip movement that they could be 
understood. It was like trying to speak during the 
rushing thunder of an express train. The Frussian 
storm troops were attacking formidably, with all 
their immense prestige, and the Americans were re- 
sponding coolly, methodicaly as the Concord minute- 
men, with machine gun and rifle. 

It cannot be said that the Frussians were cowards. 
They had been ordered to hold their position at any 
cost; and they fought ferociously, until they were 
dropped by the bayonet. In their machine-gun pits 
twenty and thirty Hun gunners were found, piled in 
heaps, slain by the bayonet, showing they had re- 
sisted desperately to the end ; and the path to those 
same pits could be traced by American dead. Neither 
side asked or gave any quarter, and in those first 
fierce days of the offensive few prisoners were taken. 

Copyright, 1918, by the Cttrtis Publishing Company. 
Photograph passed by the Comtnittee on Public Infortnatiou. Photo, by courtesy of the 

American Red Cross. Reproduced from The Saturday Evening Post of Philadelphia. 



Despite the redoubtable blows of the famous iron- 
disciplined Prussian Guards and the Bavarian Re- 
serves, shock troops alleged to be irresistible, despite 
also the hail of bullets and gas shells and high ex- 
plosives right in their faces, the Americans started a 
counter-drive. The Germans had initiated this game 
called "drive," and now the Americans, under Foch 
and Pershing, were ramming that same game down 
their throats. And slowly the German line began to 
recoil. Slowly those Prussians and Bavarians, fight- 
ing like tigers, began to retire. For the first time 
since America's entry into the war she began to land 
substantial body blows upon the enemy ; for the first 
time that enemy began to stagger under the terrible 
punishing force of those blows, delivered with the 
whole weight of a powerful angry nation behind them. 
The Germans had started out to stampede the Ameri- 
cans ; the Americans retorted by stampeding the Ger- 
mans — a little. 

And now began two tides: one tide strong, and 
hourly growing stronger, sweeping the Hun back, 
pressing into tighter corners and hotter hells, victori- 
ous ; the other tide composed of those who fell — a 
quiet, stricken, bloody tide, ebbing slowly toward the 

The hospital was waiting to receive them, surgeons 
and nurses in aprons and caps. In the kitchen a 
soldier, told off as cook, stoked the big kitchen range 
untU it glowed incandescent on top, and the huge 


marmites of coffee and cocoa disseminated a fragrant 
aroma through the house. Ambulances, a steady 
stream, began to climb the dark, wooded hill road. 
Two lanterns, like bright, glowing eyes, fastened on 
either side of the entrance gate, guided them into the 
grounds. In the rear of the chateau, in front of the 
admission tent, they halted ; deposited their burdens 
— silent, immobile, blanket-swathed figures, whose 
white bandages showed deep crimson stains — re- 
trieved blankets and stretchers ; snatched a hasty 
gulp of strong black coffee, and rumbled off for an- 
other load. More drew up, unloaded, departed. And 
still more and more and more. What a traffic in the 
dead of night ! The traffic sergeant gave low, terse 
orders. A hooded lantern gleamed here and there. 
Over all was the infernal voice of the cannon, and 
those swift, stabbing, crimson flames across the sky. 
Inside the admission tent, despite the rush and the 
constant influx of fresh stretchers, a clean-cut order 
prevailed. Men, sorely wounded, rested on their lit- 
ters without change for a few minutes, while their 
infected clothes were removed and a brief history 
taken, after which they were borne off by brancar- 
diers directly to the X-ray and operating rooms. 
Thus with all haste and yet with all order a con- 
stant sorting went on, the serious operative cases 
going forward, the lighter cases remaining behind. 
These latter were helped into clean pyjamas, given 
hot soup or cocoa — some of them during the fury of 


the attack had not tasted food for more than twenty- 
. four hours — their wounds re-bandaged, and put to 
bed to await their turn in the long procession that 
led to the operating table. And some of these latter, 
shelled incessantly, under constant shock and stress, 
not having closed an eye for seventy-two hours, took 
the high dive into deep oblivion with the coffee cup 
still in their hands, and slept solidly for a night and 
a day on end. 

The cots in the admission ward filled up. The 
stream of badly wounded moved forward and the 
fresh stream from the ambulances flowed in to its 
place. Everywhere could be heard a continuous low 
drone of conversation. There was no excitement. 
But neither was there silence nor sadness — though 
some were dying — nor groaning nor evidence of pain. 
They were talking, indeed, but it was noticeable that 
no one spoke of his wounds or his sufferings, though 
some had lain twenty-four hours and more on the 
field or in the dugouts under intense barrage before 
they could be brought in. But it was not of this 
they spoke. The battle, what had happened up there, 
still intoxicated them, still held their brains in thrall. 
They talked of horrible, grotesque, fantastic and san- 
guinary things in low, level dispassionate tones, as if 
they were discussing the weather : 

"I saw my captain and my lieutenant blown 
straight to hell ; it was a head-on collision with a high 
explosive. My captain was a fine fellow. He always 


seen we had a place to sleep, and if there was any- 
thing to eat going we got it. I was handed one in 
the chest. We was creeping up on a nest of their 
machine guns that the dirty boches had hid in a tree. 
I couldn't bandage my chest wound, and I was spit- 
ting blood pretty bad, so I lay down in a shallow 
shell hole for the rest of the day. 

"Along toward night I says to a comrade shot 
through the arm, who had crawled in alongside: 
'Steve,' I says, 'we've got to beat it. This is getting 
too lively for me.' By that time the shells was bust- 
ing at regular intervals at a distance of about five 
feet apart. No use scrouchin' down to dodge 'em; 
if you did you lost your interval — see ? And the next 
one caught you straight! So we just stood up and 
walked along kind of slow. We made it that way for 
about a mile, stumbling along, not going too fast or 
too slow, for fear of losing that danged interval, 
when suddenly I flopped down. I'd been bleeding 
pretty freely right along. 

" 'Steve,' I says, 'I'm not going to make it. You 
hike on.' 

"But he helped me to stand, and so we kind of 
leaned up against each other like some of these funny 
dead drunks you see, and staggered along until pres- 
ently we saw something looming ahead. I let out a 
feeble little yip. It was a French machine gun right 
on top of us, and they was just drawing off to firel 
Yes, sir! That holler, for all it was so feeble, was 


the best little piece of business I ever pulled!" 

Some of their stories, I am bound to say, were 
whoppers, and their figures as inflated as those of 
watered stock. They saw things heroic size. This 
phase of battlefield psychology is well known to war 
surgeons. One soldier, for example, declared his 
entire division had been wiped out. Another made 
modest mention of the fact that his company alone, 
single-handed, against overwhelming odds, had 
started the Hun on his return trip to Berlin. 

"Aw, dry up !" groaned out an exasperated realist, 
with a grimace of pain. "You four-flushers make me 
sick, blowing like that !" 

"Well, anyhow," retorted the youtH who had 
boasted of his company, "we whaled 'em in that 
pocket !" 

The realist lifted himself with labor, for a con- 
temptuous look at the optimist. 

"What's the mater with your eye?" he demanded. 

"Left it on the battlefield to look after things," 
said the other with utter sang-froid. "What's a little 
private eye or two in a war of this size.^" 

"Well, you're no tin-horn sport!" admitted the 
realist grimly. And he laid himself down again. 

Near the entrance to the admission tent lay a man 
on a stretcher, his leg bandaged above the knee. The 
trouser leg had been cut away, the white bandage 
gleamed ominously red, and down his leggings, down 
to the heel of his heavy boot, oozed slow drops of red 


which formed a dark pool on the stretcher. His 
eyes were closed; his eyelids were violet; his face, 
under the gleam of the surgeon's torch, showed 
ghastly white; and a week's growth of black beard 
emphasized the pallor. 

"Get him right up to the house," commanded the 
surgeon after an expert squint, not so much at the 
leg as at another bandage round the chest. "Have 
you taken his history?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"Then shoot him in ahead of the others. Tell the 
nurse to have him X-rayed at once, and pass him into 
the operating room. It's a long chance at that." 

The brancardiers bore him away. 

Down in the other wards the cots were fast filling 
with the gassed. For these, in an evacuation surgical 
hospital, nothing could be done save to remove their 
gas-impregnated garments, bandage their blisters and 
burns, feed them, rest them — and rush them on to the 
rear. Upon one of the beds lay a boy, gassed by 
phosgene. He lay in a kind of stupor, wondrously 
beautiful and pale, a statue carved in pure marble, 
the mobile boyish mouth curved in a faint smile. No 
visible breath. No pulse. And for him, too, rest — 
absolute rest. 

Still the cannons thundered and their vivid flames 
painted momentarily the black sky. The ambulances 
never ceased their steady rumble. The drivers got 
down for a draught of hot coffee, a word with the 


sergeant, and then drove off in the dark. It was an 
unending procession. 

And now another tent down in the grounds, iso- 
lated from the others, began to be filled. Some of 
the occupants were wounded, some gassed; some 
groaned and called out in guttural accents of agony, 
of fear ; some were too far gone to groan. A guard 
stood at the door. 

"Guess they think we're going to murder them!" 
opined he grimly to the brancardiers as they bore in 
still another litter. 

"We caught quite a bunch to-night between the 
devil and the deep blue sea," remarked a brancardier 
jovially. "Now then — steady! One — two — three! 
Drop the stretcher!" They lifted the silent figure 
into bed. "This poor devil is almost in. He'll be 
going West before long. Here's another. Says his 
name is Max. All right. Max! You're in America 
now ! Nothing but a kid — is he ? Can you make out 
what he's chewing the rag about?" 

The guard bent down his head. The German pris- 
oner, young, pale, with still a lingering, childlike soft- 
ness of contour about the chin, rolled his head cease- 
lessly to and fro, to and fro, while he muttered in a 
delirium of pain: "Oh, my poor old mother! Oh, 
my little sister! The Germans did not want the 
war I" Over and over again, like a litany. 

Up in the pre-operative ward in the chateau the 
beds and the floor and the hallway were encumbered 


with men on stretchers waiting to be fed into the 
X-ray room. Here, as down in the admission ward, 
there was a constant circulation, the gravest cases 
being rapidly pushed forward and fresh stretchers 
from the outside filling their places. Suddenly an 
orderly, who had been bending above a still figure on 
a cot, straightened himself, and with panic in his face 
stepped across the room to the nurse. 

"That guy in the corner's dying, I think," he mut- 
tered in her ear. "Anyhow, he's stopped breathing." 

Hastily the nurse sought the alleged moribund's 
cot, leaned down and felt his pulse. Normal. She 
held her palm above his nostrils. The man was sound 
asleep ! He was slumbering softly, tranquilly, like a 
babe in its crib. The orderly, accustomed to the 
labored, stertorous respirations of those who fight a 
running fight with death, thought a man must be 
dying if he did not make a noise ! 

Stepping carefully along that crowded corridor I 
bent down to rearrange the blanket of a stretcher 
case, and ask the soldier how he did. 

"I'm all right," he replied quietly. "It's only my 
foot. I was cleaning my automatic and suddenly it 
went off accidentally and shot me through the 

At that word "accidentally" a kind of cold chill 
assailed me. Why had he used that ill-omened word 
at all? Before now I had heard of the S. I. W.'s — 
self-inflicted wounds. These were soldiers who, 


through cowardice or momentary panic or spite, 
raging against some real or fancied wrong committed 
by a superior officer, shot themselves in the hand or 
foot in order to be sent back to the rear. In any 
aggregation of humans mounting up to more than a 
million there are bound to be a few such weaklings. 
But not this youth with the quiet voice and the clear, 
candid eyes ! A second time he explained the incident, 
elaborating the details — ^with painstaking care — and 
a second time he used that fatal word. My heart was 
troubled. My head — that cool, hard, alien, dispas- 
sionate observer that sits up aloft in us all — ^whis- 
pered that this foolish lad had given the game clean 
away by the double use of that damning word. But 
my heart cried out that his story might be true. 

Angry at myself, and even more at this savage 
war, at those monstrous taskmasters, the guns, which 
put to the same acid test all men, whether strong or 
weak, I passed the closed doors of the operating room 
to the deserted veranda and sat down upon the steps. 
A stray hound, coiled on the lower step, stirred at 
my coming, thrust its cool muzzle into my lap and 
licked my hand. And so we sat in mute companion- 
ship, the dog and I, and listened to the pounding of 
the guns. And it seemed to me that night that the 
dog had the best of it ! 

Presently a scream — or, to speak more exactly, a 
yell — pierced the quiet of the house and brought me, 
startled, to my feet. It was not a cry of terror or of 


anguish — ^nothing at all like that. It was the loud, 
chesty, rebellious roar of a lusty infant asserting his 
human rights. But this particular infant was well 
within the draft limits. Softly I crossed the hall, the 
dog tagging my footsteps, and opened the door of the 
operating room. In that brilliantly lighted little 
theater of healing and pain three tables were occu- 
pied, three teams of surgeons were working. 

On the table nearest the door a big red-headed 
young colossus with the chest and huge freckled arms 
of a Samson, was just going under ether. Or rather, 
he was not going to do any such thing if he could 
help himself. At the head of the table, behind him, 
sat the anaesthetist. With one hand she held the ether 
cone over his nose while with the other she poured the 
ether over the cotton. Perhaps the giant had taken 
fifteen or twenty whiffs — ^just enough to decide he 
didn't like the smell and that he was going to be boss 
of his nose! At the hot-water tap stood the major, 
soaping his hands for this new case while the nurse 
tied on a sterile apron. 

As I opened the door the young giant, with a swift 
twist of his head — the only part of him that was 
free — whirled the offending cone to the floor. It was 
for all the world like the action of an obstreperous 
young colt refusing the bridle. The anaesthetist re- 
trieved it, afBxed it firmly to his nose and soaked it in 

Sounded a muffled roar : "Stop I Stop, I tell yah I 


Don't you know how to stop ?" More ether. "Stop 
you !" By this time he was struggling violently. He 
had taken just enough to be rebellious, and he looked 
sufficiently strong to rise up and walk off with the 
table strapped to his back. "I want — I — wanta — 

wanta " 

"Easy there, old man," counseled the major reas- 
suringly. "Take it easy." 

But Redhead did not intend to take it easy or any 
other way. Another whisk of the head. Off flew the 
ether cone. This time the major himself picked it up 
and took the anaesthetist's chair. But before he could 
readjust the cone the blue eyes in the crimson face 
beneath opened widely, the giant struggled deter- 
minedly and roared in strangled tones : 

"I — I — ^wanta — I wanta s-s-s — I wanta — spit !" 

The major chuckled as he lifted the cone. "All 

right, old man, shoot! Now then — count. One — 

two — three. Louder ! Breathe deep. Four — five — 

six. That's the stuff ! Seven. Keep it up! Loud! 

Ten " 

The breathing turned into a strong regular snore, 
and soon the giant had slid fathoms deep into the 
state of profound unconsciousness. Softly I closed 
the door. 

Some of these men, strong husky youngsters, puls- 
ing with life, hard as nails from their free out-of-door 
habits, are about as easy to put under ether as would 
be a wild steer off the range. Every atom of their 


physical nature rebels at surrendering consciousness. 
Others go under like lambs. It is largely a matter 
of temperament. Once a private laughed as they 
lifted him upon the table, and catching a whiff of 
ether he chuckled: "Hi! Give me my gas mask!" 
Then he cuddled the cone comfortably into place over 
his nose, settled down to snooze, and took the high 
dive into complete unconsciousness without a single 

The next morning broke into one of those exquisite 
soft mellow days for which this part of the country, 
called by the French the heart of France, seems cele- 
brated. It was like a perfect rose, a day when Na- 
ture, by her clear sheer beauty, seems to shame man 
for his deeds of anger and blood. Still the ambu- 
lances climbed the hill, a steady stream, and vanished 
to the rear. At the moment, however, they were car- 
rying more gassed than wounded. And thus the sur- 
geons were snatching a rest. One or two of them 
appeared in the doorway for a moment, pale, with 
circles under the eyes and heavy lines from nostril to 
jaw. When they walked, it was slowly, and I had the 
impression that they might make it on a dead level, 
but that they would stumble over a pin. 

When the major appeared he proposed a walk to 
the laundry plant. The change of linen on a thou- 
sand to fifteen hundred beds a night during a rush 
means a well-organized washing system — and this 
hospital had to depend on the village women. We 


strolled through one of the loveliest woods in France, 
the branches overhead interlacing into Gothic arches 
of lucid green, while far above, great white billowy 
clouds, like graceful schooners under full sail, bowled 
along through the deep uncharted blue of some un- 
known port. And as we strolled the major spoke of 
something extraordinary that had occurred the night 

"It was a queer piece of psychology," he said, 
"and I don't know that I can get it over to you. It 
will probably sound unreal, exaggerated, in this calm 
morning sunshine. But you must try to realize the 
setting; try to comprehend the tensity, the strain of 
that operating room. We had been operating for 
twenty-four solid hours without a break, upon our 
men. Fine brave fellows, who went on the table with- 
out a groan. Men shot to pieces, horribly mangled, 
done to death. It's heartbreaking work, if one's got 
any heart to break. At the end of the night we all 
felt mighty blue. Then they brought in an American 
captain, a medical officer, already in a moribund con- 
dition. Well, to see one of our own corps in that 
state touched us pretty close. He was blown to 
pieces. He hadn't a chance, and he knew it. And 
the sight of his calm, his high fine courage, hit us 
hard. But we did what we could for him — ^which was 
just nothing at all. After that was over I called out : 
*Fetch in the boches !' 

"And as they brought in the first German wounded 


I was aware of a peculiar atmosphere, a sense of 
strain, a clear antagonism in the room. It was like 
a live magnetic current. You cannot conceive — no- 
body can — the terrific night we'd been through trying 
to salvage our brave fellows. The emotional stress 
was stupendous. Well, now we were looking on those 
who had caused that ruin, and the revulsion of feel- 
ing ran high. As the anaesthetist fixed the ether cone 
in place on the Prussian he said to me: 'Sir, would 
you consider it a crime if I were just to go on pouring 
ether on this Hun's nose ?' 

"That brought a laugh and cleared the strained 
atmosphere. And we cleaned up their wounded ex- 
actly as if they had been our own. But I'll not deny 
we were glad when it was done !" 

Returning to the chateau the major suddenly 
stopped and inquired: "Have you ever seen any 
cases of shell shock?" 

I had not, though I had heard of them in the 
French and British armies. 

"We don't know exactly what it is yet," continued 
the major. "Nobody does. But we have a special 
American hospital for its treatment. Look here : You 
see those two chaps crouching down by the steps.'' 
They both have it— hard." 

I looked. I had noted those two hunched figures 
before, and had taken them for orderlies, dead with 
fatigue, snatching a few minutes' sleep. Now I 
looked closer. And looking closer I perceived it was 


not fatigue that caused them to squeeze themselves 
into the smallest possible space; it was not fatigue 
that caused them to hunch their shoulders and bow 
their backs as before a storm, draw their heads down 
into the curved hollow of their chests and try to hide 
themselves in the ground. It was fear — abject, 
ghastly, insane fear. They were obsessed, petrified, 
rendered deaf and dumb — by fear. 

The major bent down to one, laid a hand on his 
shoulder, spoke a friendly word. The man's fixed 
gaze stared straight through him as if he had been 
composed of air. He was deaf to reason, deaf to 
human appeal — ^but not deaf to the roar of the can- 
non. For each time that an ambulance rolled by or 
distant thunder issued from the clouds banking in 
the western sky his head jerked in the direction of the 
sound as though pulled by invisible wires. But not 
one word would he utter. Only his eyes seemed alive, 
wild, dark, affrighted. For the moment he was not 
human, but an effigy galvanized by fear. The noise, 
the continuous shelling, with probably some addi- 
tional culminating shock, had temporarily bereft him 
of reason. For both of these men were unwounded, 

Later, in the admission ward, with the help of an 
orderly I induced one of these men to eat. The other 
patients watched with indifference. They had long 
since become hardened to uglier sights than that of a 
man crazed in battle. It was like feeding an infant 


ostrich. The mouth opened methodically to receive 
the food, but not one move, not one sound would he 
make. One hand upheld in air, the index finger 
raised, marked the tensity of his strained attention. 
His blue eyes forever darted from side to side. At 
each distant volley his body trembled and shook. 
And those straining eyes, full of horror, and that 
raised index finger followed questing through the air 
for the sound. It was infinitely pitiful. 

"Don't coddle him!" called the major, passing 
through. "It's the worst thing in world you can do." 

"May I see if I can get him to talk?" 

"Certainly. But treat him like an ordinary indi- 

"He's afraid to talk," said the orderly, pausing 
by the stretcher. "He's a nut. He thinks if he opens 
his mouth the Germans will hear him and send over a 

In taking his record I discovered his first name was 

"Why, Thomas," I said, "I've a brother by that 
name. What do they call you — Tom ?" For the first 
time his eyes fixed themselves on mine. "No, no, 
don't point up there !" For now his index finger was 
lifted toward the canvas roof, upon which the first 
pattering drops of the storm were beginning to fall, 
and his wide blue eyes were straining after the sound. 
"It's raining, Tom," I explained. "Rain, rain, rain. 
You know what rain is ! Now put that hand inside." 


With the faint, troubled smile of a child he obeyed. 
But the next instant that listening index finger was 
upraised again in the air. Resolutely I thrust his 
hand under the blanket. 

"Look at me, Tom. Tom ! Look !" He brought 
his strained gaze down from the roof. "Look round 
you and see where you are. Do you see those nurses ? 
Do you see these beds ? You're in a hospital. You're 
not fighting now. No shells can get you here. So 
you've got to buck up and feed yourself. We're all 
busy here. Take your spoon. Now! Can you find 
the road to your mouth?" 

With another smile, infinitely pathetic, he man- 
aged to convey a very wobbly loaded spoon some- 
where near the region of his face. The second one 
found the goal. But it was a prodigious effort. The 
sweat poured off him. The startled blue eyes lost 
their fixed glare. Still he had not spoken. When 
finally he finished the soup and started to haul the 
blanket up over his head I drew it back and tucked 
it firmly under his chin. And again those blue eyes 
smiled! And now for the first time he recognized I 
was a woman. Before then I had simply been a vague 
irritant which prevented his proper listening. 

With hesitation he pointed to his shirt pocket. 
This was the first movement, unconnected with his 
obsession, he had made of his own initiative. 
Thomas was coming on ! I drew forth a small worn 
black leather Testament and laid it in his hands. 


With trembling fingers, for at intervals he still 
quaked like a leaf, he opened to a photograph — most 
obviously himself and his young wife. At sight of 
this girl looking out at him with frank laughing eyes 
a ray of joy broke across his troubled countenance. 
He stared hard, his face working — and then he burst 
into sobs. 

"Who is it, Tom? Your brother?" 

He shook his head violently and pointed to him- 
self. And now the fugitive smile reappeared. 

"Not you !" I exclaimed in hearty surprise. 

He nodded, fully absorbed. But still he would not 
commit himself to speech. 

"Then tell me. Say it. Speak!" 

He thumped on his chest to indicate it was himself ; 
his face worked ; his eyes begged, implored me not to 
insist, not to drag him forth from his cellule of 

"Who is that, Tom?" 

He shut his eyes, opened his mouth, and with the 
sweat starting out on his forehead he pronounced 
huskily: "Me!" 

The sound of his own voice seemed to terrify him 
utterly, and again he burst into tears. 

"And who is this with you, Thomas — your grand- 
mother ?" 

Again that ray of vivid joy. No need to ask 
Thomas' sentiments about his wife! That one look 
told it all. Again the violent head shake. 


"Thomas, it's no use shaking your head at me. 
You've got to tell me who this lady is !" 

And with a tremulous laugh and an effort that 
brought the tears into his eyes and mine Thomas 
responded proudly, brokenly : "My wife !" 

The ice was broken. In stumbling accents, like a 
child, Thomas began to talk. And when an hour 
later he was evacuated back to a base which treats 
these mental breakdowns it was Thomas himself, from 
the dark interior of the ambulance where he lay on a 
stretcher, who called out weakly: "Good-by, miss! 
Good luck!" 

Thus Thomas came back from the land of fear. 

Later I went down through the wards searching 
for the man who had shot himself through the ankle. 

"Oh, you mean the S. I. W. .?" replied the nurse to 
my interrogation. "Well, he's keeping pretty quiet 
this morning. There he is." 

"But he's not an S. I. W.," I protested rather 
faintheartedly. "He told me it was an accident." 

"Maybe he did," she retorted with a significant 

"Well? Did he confess later?" 

"No. Not consciously. But after the operation, 
while he was coming out from under ether, he gave 
the whole thing away. He blabbed the entire story 
before all the men. It seemed he had a grievance 
against some officer and took this way of getting out 
from under his command. Somebody," she finished 


humorously, "ought to tell those S. I. W.'s that they 
can't get away with those accidental-on-purpose self- 
inflicted wounds. Lie as they may, when they're put 
under ether out plumps the truth. All the ward 
hears it, and the poor devil, regaining consciousness, 
wonders why it is that all his comrades turn away 
their eyes or look him up and down with a cold, con- 
temptuous stare. That chap down there is suffering 
agonies right now. You see he has pulled up 
the sheet over his head and is pretending to be 

A word to the wise is sufficient. Those privates 
who try to take the law into their own hands and 
change the deal by means of a self-inflicted wound, 
heed the advice of this friendly nurse — and don't. 
You can't get away with it. Ether will find your 
guilty secret out. Fortunately, cases of this type 
are few and far between. 

As the afternoon waned into evening and darkness 
fell the cannons resumed their bellowing, and the am- 
bulances, which during the day had fallen off, began 
once more to climb the hill. And this time it was not 
only gassed that were flowing in but wounded as well. 
Despite the swiftness and the precision with which 
the hospital machinery moved the stretchers began to 
congest, to mass, to lie in the corridors, on the porch, 
and down on the moon-blanched grass. Men shat- 
tered and torn to pieces, patient, incomparably brave, 
with a smile or a joke for the orderlies who worked 


among them, lay in the open night under the stars 
awaiting their turn at the table. 

Ah, those dark, silent, blanket-draped figures, lying 
so still under the moon! Those ghastly pale faces 
smudged with mud and blood, summoning a smile from 
their fainting souls as they look up into your eyes! 
All the papers were glowing with the magnificent 
deeds of the American heroes. Well, here they were, 
those heroes, lying before our eyes mangled, torn, 
bleeding to death with a smile. Somehow in the face 
of all this the glory and the bombast of those printed 
eulogies seemed tawdry and cheap. 

One of the wounded men on a stretcher called at- 
tention to the night. And it was a night worthy of 
attention. The moon — ^large, lustrous, flat as an 
ancient golden plate of Babylon, chased with strange 
designs — ^was just appearing over the somber pine 
woods and drowning the fields and the hospital tents 
in a glimmering silver mist. But it was not the 
beauty that the private remarked. 

*'^Fine night for a Hun raid !" he observed grimly ; 
and raising himself with effort on one elbow he stared 
about him at the hospital tents and the chateau 
crowded with helpless men. But if this evacuation 
hospital w as to be bombed — which at the moment I 
did not believe — it would be an act of sheer wanton 
brutality, of inhuman reprisal because our troops 
were winning at Chateau-Thierry. For on a night of 
brilliant moonshine like this those blanched tents and 


the huge white cross on the grass — insigne of mercy 
— were visible at a height of ten thousand feet. No, 
certainly the Germans would not bomb this hospital. 
They had bombed other hospitals before, it was true, 
but they would not bomb this one. Why, they 
had flown over it dozens of times! Thus we all 

The early hours of night passed, to the wounded 
mortally slow, each second packed to its full weight 
of agony. Down in the wards the cases already oper- 
ated on were being settled into their cots and, ac- 
cording to how the ether took them, they were laugh- 
ing, sobbing or reliving the grotesque scenes of the 
battlefield. No lights here, save the blanched moon 
rays which filtered in or the occasional gleam of an 
electric torch directing the movements of the bran- 
cardiers. On the beaten grassy sod of the tent floor 
their heavy tread fell noiselessly ; their voices were 
hushed ; and one sensed rather than saw many pres- 
ences in that dark place. Some of the men were 
asleep ; some, too ill to sleep, racked by anguish, by 
thirst or a mortal restlessness, called feebly for a 
drink. One there was, lying high on his pillows, 
passing in pain, who punctuated each gasping res- 
piration with a long-drawn "O-o-o ! O-o-o !" 

By his side another, obviously coming out of ether, 
babbled, babbled ceaselessly, in dull drugged tones. 
A nurse sat by him. 

"Say," his voice, weak, dragging, half submerged 


in unconsciousness, came out of the dark, "are — are 
you — my mother?" 

"No, boy. Go to sleep." 

Again the submerged, dragging voice: "Don't 
seem — to have no appetite — for sleeping. . . . Fine 
appetite — for fighting. . . . No appetite — for sleep. 
. . . Haven't slept — I don't know when. . , , Shell- 
ing. Say, they murdered us — in that wood " 

"Sh !" whispered the nurse. "There's a man in the 
next bed that's pretty bad who's trying to sleep. 
You wouldn't like to wake him, would you ?" 

"Sure not !" He caught hold of the soothing hand 
and held it fast with the instinctive tenacious grip of 
a drowsy baby. "Worse off than me, is he? . . . I've 

not got much the matter with Oh, God !" — this 

in a high wrenched voice of clear agony — "what have 
you done to me ? I can't — I can't move !" 

"Sh ! It's all right. But you mustn't try to move, 
boy ! Lie right still." 

"Awright! . . . Say, did you say you was my 


"I knew you wasn't my mother ! But you kind of 
sound — like her. . . . But she's far away from here 
— I know that. . . . Can't fool me! . . . I'm in a 
hospital. Say, are you my sister?" 

"No. I'm the nurse. Try to sleep, old top." 

"Awright — anything to please a lady. . . . Say, 
my mother'd hate to see me like this, wouldn't she? 


. . . Say, the folks at home don't know a damn thing 
about this war — what goes on up here. . . . I'm not 
going to write to my mother about being here. . . . 
What's the use? . . . Did you say that guy in the 
next bed was worse oif than me ?" 


"Is that him making that noise in his throat?" 

"Yes. Does it bother you?" 

"Hell, no ! Say, ask him what his outfit is. . . . 
Maybe he got his in that wood along with me." Sud- 
denly, before the nurse could thwart him, he sprang 
to a sitting position and shouted in a strong, clear 
voice: "Say, are they any fellows here from my 

"What's your outfit?" came a husky voice from 
across the aisle. 

"Blank machine guns. Battery C." 

No reply. 

"Wait until morning," soothed the nurse as she 
eased him gently back again. "Then you can look up 
your comrades. And don't move quick like that 
again, sonny. It's bad for you. It might start you 
to bleeding. Lie still. Try to sleep." 

"Don't want to sleep. . . . Any fool can sleep. 
. . . Say, do you know why they didn't answer when 
I called out to see if any of my outfit was here ? . . . 
It's because there ain't any of the outfit left but me ! 
. . . The whole blank division's gone — ^wiped out — 
shot to hell. They murdered us in that wood " 


"Sh! Sh! There's lots left up there, boy! Don't 
you fret. They're cleaning the boches right 
out. We're so proud of you we can't see straight. 
Now go to sleep. Try. Just a little. Won't you 

"Awright ! . . . Say, you sound an awful lot like 
my mother. . . . Can I have a drink? . . . More." 

"It'll make you sick, boy. Now lie still . . . still 
. . . still . . . very , . , ve-ry — — " 



"No, but say — I want to say something. , . . JVill 
you write a letter to my captain?" 

"Yes, in the morning." 

"No — right now. I want you to send it off right 
now — before they move out." 

"All right, old man. Wliat do you want to say?" 

"Write this:" The voice was clear and smooth 

"*Dear Captain: I'm so sorry I disappointed 
you that I can't sleep. I'm trying, but I can't. I'm 
here in the hospital. They've took off my leg, I think, 
but I'm not sure yet. But what I wanted to say was 
this : I gave the orders just as you told me. But the 
damn cooks ran away. I couldn't much blame them. 
The Huns would have shot them to hell if they'd 
stayed. But I gave the orders, exactly as you said. 
I wanted you to know.' 


"That's all." 

Still holding the nurse's hand he appeared to 
drowse. She breathed a sigh of relief, and gently, 
very gently, sought to disengage herself. Instantly 
the grip tightened. And the private's voice, quiet, 
utterly rational, sounded out of the dark : 

"Say, you know my captain — ^he was killed. He 
was standing just a little way in front of me as I 
came up to give my report, and a shell busted straight 
in front of us and tore his whole r" 

"Sh! Sh!" 

"My captain, he was a fine captain. . . . He — 
sure was kind — to us — all " 

The voice, weak, dragging, came to a halt, paused, 
died away. At last the boy slept. 

And now the tremulous moaning sigh of the dying 
man was the only sound in the ward. 

"0-0-0 ! 0-0-0 ! 0-0-0 !" He was passing fast on 
his lonely road. 

It drew on toward midnight. The moonlight, now 
at full strength, bathed the tents and the road in a 
radiant silvery flood. Down behind the wards a 
grove of somber pines seemed to draw all the dark- 
ness of the night into its own heart and leave the 
surrounding air clear and pale like a halo. One ex- 
pected to see fairies with lustrous iridescent wings 
and morning-glory skirts come trooping out from 
that solemn enchanted wood to dance among the 
crimson poppies. 


On the rear porch of the chateau the line of wait- 
ing stretchers had been moved inside. The stream 
trickled, man by man, through the X-ray room into 
the operating theater. There, under a brilliant con- 
centrated light, the surgeons toiled, without ever 
glancing up, under a tremendous pressure. But they 
were catching up with the game. 

Suddenly, between the moon and the blanched 
earth, whirled a monstrous black shape. Lower and 
lower it swooped. And now the air was filled with a 
terrible vibrating hum. The interrupted drone of 
twin motors chanted louder and louder. It became 
an enveloping, stupefying roar. Not continuous, but 
rhythmical, rising and falling, savage beating waves 
of sound. 

C-r-r — ash ! A blinding flash. All creation seemed 
to go up in the earth-shaking roar of explosion. The 
air was black with acrid smoke. 

C-r-r — ash ! Again. A tent, struck squarely, was 
slit to ribbons. Terror insensate, blind, gripped one 
by the throat. 

"The boches! They're bombing us! They're 
bombing the hospital !" 

Screams, groans, horror indescribable. Men with 
broken arms and legs threw themselves out of their 
beds, sought refuge underneath. Wounds broke 
open. A shell-shock patient sprang from his cot with 
a crazy yell and ran out into the night. Down, down, 
he rushed, panting, down into the heart of those black 


pines. Another shell-shock case flew to a heap of 
army blankets in the corner and burrowed out of 
sight. He fancied he was in a dugout. An orderly 
who kept his head found time to bend down and tuck 
his feet in, saying: "Now they won't find you, old 
sport !" 

A high shrill scream. Another. The wounded 
were being hit again. The dark air was filled with 
death. Pieces of shrapnel hurtled through the air 
like knives. The tent walls gaped with holes like a 
sieve. And still that deafening roar of twin motors, 
which seemed settling right on their heads. An or- 
derly standing in the moon-blanched road scuttled 
like a rabbit to cover. He flung himself under the 
wheels of an ambulance. And there his destiny found 
him. A piece of shrapnel passed through his body. 
His soul took instant flight. 

Up in the operating room the surgeons worked on, 
their faces the color of chalk. Whang! Whang! 
Pieces of metal bit into the iron shutters. The win- 
dows splintered into a million shards. One flying bit 
of shell whizzed through the air, less than four feet 

from Major M and lodged in the opposite wall. 

The orderly fled in blind panic. 

"Hi! Go and stand in the corner for a dunce!" 
commanded the major sternly. Turning to his sur- 
geons he said : "Come on, men. We can't let our pa- 
tients suffer!" and faced back to the table. His 
cheerful sang-froid stiffened the nerve of them all. 


The orderly crawled out from his corner. The nurse 
handed round tin hats. Silent, they bent to their 

And still overhead the terrific ear-splitting bour- 
don, the infernal interrupted drone of a machine 
swooping down to less than three hundred meters in 
order to make no mistake! C-r-r — ash! Another 
blind, earth-rocking roar. It was the third bomb. 
And again it hit the mark. Luckily it was the recre- 
ation tent — and nobody was playing just then! 
Good-by, phonograph. Good-by, comfortable easy- 
chairs! Screams from the adjoining tent as the 
whistling missiles flew. 

But by now another blessed racket had set up. 
Crack! Crack! Crack-crack! The antiaircraft 
guns began to bellow from a dozen concealed points. 
Sparks of fire burst in the clear upper air. Would 
the boche plane drop its fourth bomb ? One waited in 
anguished suspense. And now that infernal vibra- 
tion began to lift; the savage rhythmical whir 
sounded less and less fierce, died down, faded away. 
The French guns had scared the intruder off. 

The surgeons straightened backs, which despite 
themselves had humped beneath the iron hail, drew 
deep breaths, and smiled at each other with lips that 
were still a trifle stiff. 

"Scared pea green !" admitted one. 

"Thought it was going to roost on the rooftop all 


"Gee ! Some roar !" 

Yes, it was over. It had lasted just six minutes! 
For six eternity-long minutes hell had yawned wide. 
Then,^ suddenly as it came, the danger had passed. 

Major M settled his tin hat firmly on his head 

and, looking like a mandarin in his long white blouse, 
started forth to estimate the damage and collect the 
rewounded for operation. Fortunately one of the 
large tents which had been struck square amidships 
was empty. Here twisted beds, gutted mattresses, 
bits of uniforms and tatters of clothes were pasted 
over the landscape as if a degenerate monster had 
been at play. In another ward he discovered the 
patients down on all fours, just clambering out from 
under cover. 

"What's all this ? What are you doing under those 
beds?" demanded the major in mock severity. 

An Irishman poked out his head from his refuge, 
but cautiously, like a tortoise emerging from its 

"We were blown here, sir !" he explained solemnly. 

The burst of laughter that followed this menda- 
cious sally cleared the atmosphere. With the aid of 
nurses and orderlies the patients were got back to 
bed; shattered nerves were soothed by sleeping po- 
tions ; the rewounded victims carried up to the cha- 
teau ; one shell-shock case was retrieved from his dug- 
out and the other from the wood; the dead orderly 
was tenderly borne away ; the wounded nurse, struck 


in the side by flying metal, brought in for operation 
— and a semblance of peace settled down once more 
over the hospital. 

Up in the operating room Joe, one of the toughest 
little toughs that the Bowery ever reared, and one of 
the gamest sports, was being prepared for the table. 
He was one of the bomb victims. By a perverse freak 
of fate a second piece of shrapnel had re-entered his 
old wound. He had been struck twice in exactly the 
same spot. And as that spot was a sizable hole in 
his back, and as he had already acquired pneumonia 
to boot, Joe was staggering under the envious darts 
and slings of a very adverse circumstance indeed. 
He had grim need for all of his toughness now ! 

"Them blanky dash boches," commented Joe 
weakly to the orderly who was stripping him, "they 
ain't no slouches when it comes to hittin' de mark. 
Look at me now. They had two shells wit' my name 
on, and both of 'em found me out. And I ain't no 
general, nor yet a colonel — dem big guys is easy to 
find. What's more, them two shells pinked me twice 
in de same spot — a double bull's-eye. Can youse beat 
it? If they got a toid shell wit' my name on it — it's 
good night, chicken, wit' Joe!" 

"If they've got a third shell with your name on it, 
kiddo, you call an alibi," advised the orderly. 

"I'm a-callin' one right now, friend, and don't you 
fergit it," retorted Joe earnestly. "I ain't takin' 
no chances wit' dem blanky dash boches !" 


They lifted him onto the table. 

Outside, the moon, high, pale, tranquil, drenched 
the dark earth with a silvery flood. The somber 
pines sucking the blackness from the surrounding air 
still seemed the abode of enchantment. It appeared 
incredible that a short half hour ago this quiet land- 
scape had witnessed such an atrocious deed. The 
raid had been an act of wanton, inhuman brutality. 
In honest, open warfare the Americans were winning 
at Chateau-Thierry, and in revenge the Huns had 
wreaked their rage on helpless wounded men. It 
was a futile, insane act. 

Nor did it achieve its end — to terrorize the enemy. 
On the contrary, that enemy, with a white flame of 
wrath burning high in its heart, kept steadfastly on 
with its appointed work. The surgeons, the nurses, 
the orderlies, the drivers — redoubled their vigilant 
care. The ambulances continued to rumble in, a 
steady stream. From their dark interiors stretchers 
were lifted gently out and deposited on the grass. 
Again it was a wave of gassed. Among them moved 
orderlies and nurses with food and soothing lotions 
for the burns. When the tents were filled the lighter 
cases lay out on their blankets under the moon. It 
was like a vast gypsy encampment. The men leaned 
on their elbows, drank hot coffee and talked of hor- 
rible, grotesque, fantastic and sanguinary things in 
low, level, dispassionate tones as if they were discuss- 
ing the weather. 

W 8 8^ 


Up there the battle still raged with a ferocious 
violence unconceived of in far-away safe America. 
Overhead the sullen German cannon still boomed and 
boomed and boomed. 

And still the Americans advanced — advanced — ad- 
vanced ! 




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Cranberry Township. PA 16066 

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